Philadelphia: A Judicial Hellhole
In this month’s edition of The Philadelphia Magazine, the magazine’s Chairman, Herb Lipson, quoting the American Tort Reform Association, which named Philadelphia as a “Judicial Hellhole,” wrote that “plaintiffs in a tort case can parachute in from anywhere in the state to seek their payday in Philadelphia. Not to mention that Philadelphia juries are notoriously friendly to anybody wanting a million bucks after catching a finger in a subway door.”
Not only are Mr. Lipson’s comments insulting to anyone who has participated in the civil justice system by sitting as a juror, he is simply wrong. For example, in a medical malpractice case, where an injured victim seeks to bring a lawsuit against a doctor, hospital, or other health care provider, Pennsylvania law specifically mandates any such action be filed in the county where the malpractice occurred. For example, if a plaintiff is the victim of malpractice in Montgomery county, he or she must file suit in Montgomery county. In such cases, a Philadelphia court is only available if a plaintiff is injured in Philadelphia.
Also contrary to Mr. Lipson’s notion of cases “parachuting” in to Philadelphia courts, Pennsylvania law also requires all plaintiffs’ attorneys in medical malpractice cases to file a separate certificate of merit by a licensed physician to certify that the care, skill, or knowledge exercised or exhibited in the treatment, practice, or work by the defendant doctor or health care provider fell outside acceptable standards, and that such conduct was a cause in bringing about the harm to the plaintiff.
The above limitations on a plaintiff’s access to the courts have been the law in Pennsylvania for nearly a decade. Mr. Lipson’s uninformed views are just part of the propaganda campaign going on every day in Pennsylvania and across the country in an effort to push to further limit a victim’s right to bring a lawsuit and have that lawsuit tried by a group of their peers.
There is an excellent “Letter to the Editor” in the 1/1/12 edition of the Legal Intelligencer refuting the American Tort Reform Association’s report that named Philadelphia the number one “judicial hellhole” in the country. Click on the link below to read the letter was written by Mike Morrell, who is the Executive Director of Keystone Progress, a multi-issue progressive advocacy organization.