A hellhole, that’s the term Gov. Eric Greitens used to describe the court system in St. Louis in his State of the State on Tuesday night.
“A report released about a month ago looked at every state, every city, and every county in the United States. That report named St. Louis, Missouri the worst judicial hellhole in America,” said Greitens.
That report came from Judicalhellholes.org which does in fact list St. Louis, Missouri at the top of the list.
The article states “The City of St. Louis is a magnet for product liability lawsuits and consumer class actions.”
The website largely blamed the $197 million dollar in verdicts in cases against Johnson & Johnson asserting that talcum powder caused ovarian cancer.
The site largely blames out-of-state lawyers, something Greitens reiterated in his speech.
“We’re the place where the nastiest lawyers come to do work so dirty, and engage in lawsuits so murky, they wouldn’t pass muster anywhere else.”
The American Tort Reform Foundation is behind Judicialhellholes.org. It’s an organization that has worked for years to reform civil justice systems across the country to reduce the damages victims can be awarded in a lawsuit. It’s mainly backed by hundreds of businesses and corporations from across the country.
Right now, Missouri is the top target for tort reformers, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform.
This week, the Chamber’s group launched an ad campaign hoping to convince lawmakers to pass tort reform measures in Missouri.
The Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys is against changes to current laws and has lobbied against reform bills in the past. On their website they state: “The reason the courts are open to these types of suits is to prevent people from taking the law into their own hands; to stop bad behavior; to encourage responsible behavior; and to compensate injured people for the harm done to them.”
But after being elected Speaker of the Missouri House, Todd Richardson listed tort reform as one of his top legislative agenda items for this session.
Four tort reform bills have already been filed in the State House and the State Senate.
A Republican led General Assembly passed a tort reform bill capping the amount of punitive damages could be awarded in a trial. It was signed into law by then Republican Governor Matt Blunt, but later struck down by the Missouri Supreme Court.
As for other local counties on the Judicial Hellhole list, both Madison and St. Clair Counties in Illinois came in tied for sixth along with Cook County. At one time, both Madison and St. Clair held the top spot on the watch list.
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