(CN) – For the first time in several years, Madison and St. Clair Counties in Illinois have failed to make the American Tort Reform Foundation’s list as “Judicial Hellholes” – venues that the group considers unfair for corporate defendants. Both are now on the report’s watch list, but are not as hellholes.
The ATRA called Madison County the country’s No. 1 judicial hellhole from 2002-2004. “Thanks to the comprehensive reform efforts of Chief Judge Ann Callis, Judge Daniel Stack’s continued diligence in dismissing out-of-state asbestos claims and other positive trends, the county avoided designation as a hellhole this year,” the report states.
St. Clair County once was ranked right behind Madison, but has dropped as well.
“Previously seen as an overflow for Madison County cases, St. Clair was home to 21 asbestos cases in 2004, 36 in 2005, and 29 in 2006. Class actions also have been decreasing in the county, from 36 in 2005 to 11 in 2006. As of press time, class action filings remained stable in St. Clair, with 11 filed this year,” the report states.
The Missouri Supreme Court was given a dishonorable mention. The report cited the court’s certifying a case as a class action in which parents are suing on behalf of their children who were exposed to lead, but haven’t shown symptoms of lead poisoning.
South Florida was named the No. 1 hellhole, followed by South Texas, Cook County, the State of West Virginia, Clark County, Nev., and Atlantic County, N.J.
The report states that its purpose is to “identify areas of the country where the scales of justice are radically out of balance” and “to provide solutions for restoring balance, accuracy and predictability to the American civil justice system.”
Critics say the report is just sensational propaganda, with big corporations using the ATRA as a front.