"Judicial Hellhole" Report Highlights Importance of Balance

Chicago, IL (CompNewsNetwork) - The American Tort Reform Foundation's (ATRF) annual Judicial Hellholes® report, released today, sheds a spotlight on some of the worst judicial environments in the country and highlights the importance of fighting for a balanced civil justice system in 2009, according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).

"The cost of an unfair judicial system in today's economy can be measured in lost jobs, lower tax revenues and higher costs for consumers," said David Golden, director of commercial lines for PCI. "The last thing states need right now is an unfair judicial system that makes it even harder to generate new jobs, attract new companies to the state, keep doctors, and make insurance affordable, as consumers ultimately foot the bill for runaway litigation."

The Judicial Hellholes report names the entire state of West Virginia as being the nation's "most unfair civil court jurisdiction" followed by South Florida; Cook County, Illinois; Atlantic County, New Jersey; Montgomery and Macon counties in Alabama; Los Angeles County, California; and Clark County, Nevada. 

"This report is very useful in drawing attention to specific legal venues that have developed a reputation for litigation abuse," said Golden. "However in 2009 we expect the trial bar to aggressively push legislation in statehouses across the country that will create more opportunities to file lawsuits and inflate damage awards. Based on our analysis of the political climate, we are prepared to fight tough legislative battles in many states. We are committed to making legal reform a priority issue during the 2009 legislative sessions.  The American people understand the need for reform and PCI intends to stay in the forefront in the effort to bring the meaningful reforms that are essential for economic growth and a healthy, robust insurance market."

PCI supports the effective reforms outlined in the report that can restore balance to the civil justice system, including:

1.         Stopping litigation tourism through venue reform;

2.         Enforcing consequences for bringing frivolous lawsuits;

3.         Stemming abusive use of consumer protection laws;

4.         Ensuring that pain and suffering awards serve a compensatory purpose;

5.         Strengthening rules to ensure sound science in the courtroom;

6.         Addressing medical liability issues to ensure access to health care; and

7.         Prioritizing truly sick asbestos and silica claimants.

PCI is composed of more than 1,000 member companies, representing the broadest cross-section of insurers of any national trade association.  PCI members write over $198 billion in annual premium, 40.5 percent of the nation's property casualty insurance.  Member companies write 51.6 percent of the U.S. automobile insurance market, 39.7 percent of the homeowners market, 33.2 percent of the commercial property and liability market, and 38.7 percent of the private workers compensation market.

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