The American Tort Reform Association, ATRA, is a lobbying and PR group backed by business, insurance and manufacturing interests. Its purpose is to convince as many people as it can that we are awash in frivolous litigation that threatens the life blood of our economy. Passing state and federal legislation to enact a variety of "tort reform" measures is the key to reining in runaway jury verdicts, jackpot justice, lawsuit lotteries, yada, yada, yada. ATRA regularly takes shots at the lawyers who represent natural persons (as opposed to corporate entities) who have been injured or had their rights violated through someone else's wrongdoing. The latest salvo in ATRA's ongoing attack against these folks came today in the form of its annual release of the country's "judicial hellholes." You can read it at ATRA's website. The response for the American Association for Justice, the organization of trial lawyers representing the interests of individuals across the country, is here. As this article today from the National Law Journal notes, one of the objections to ATRA's approach in coming up with its annual list of judicial hellholes is that the organization refuses to disclose any methadology for its rankings. Based on the National Law Journal article and the AAJ press release, there are a number of reasons to question whether ATRA's rankings are fair or objectively measured. Interestingly, I'm not aware of any organization or entity that attempts to track judicial hellholes from the perspective of consumers. I'm sure ATRA would say such places don't exist in our country. For that organization, the issue of tort reform is always a one way street. UPDATE: The Center for Justice & Democracy comments on ATRA's judicial hellholes here.
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