Tort group slams class-action settlements
Thursday, October 3, 2002


There are some places in this country where the famous principle "equal justice under law" doesn't always apply, according to the American Tort Reform Association.

The conservative, corporate-funded group whose program of "leading the fight for a balanced civil justice system" focuses on alleged unfairness by the courts when it comes to business disputes, especially big class action cases.

ATRA released a report Wednesday enumerating places it has dubbed "judicial hellholes," or trial court jurisdictions where it said the rules of the civil justice system are so skewed in favor of plaintiffs that money-hungry lawyers flock to file suits there.

"Hellholes are hell for everybody and create disrespect for one part of our government," said ATRA general counsel Victor Schwartz.

In the 11 ATRA hellholes, judges did things from approving settlements that benefited attorneys instead of the people they represented to improperly certifying class action suits.

Tort reform remains high in the minds of legislators this year. The Supreme Court is set to hear a host of tort reform cases this fall, including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Campbell to decide whether or not the Utah Supreme Court's $145 million award was excessive.

Joanne Doroshow, the executive director of the Center for Justice and Democracy, a consumer organization that works to protect the civil justice system, disputed ATRA's claims.

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.                

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