The City of St. Louis Crowned Country’s Number One “Judicial Hellhole”

December 2016

The City of St. Louis has had its fair share of disappointments in 2016 with the Cardinals missing the playoffs, the Rams moving to Los Angeles, and rival Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. But following the December 15, 2016 Judicial Hellholes Report released by the American Tort Reform Foundation (ATRF), the City of St. Louis now adds to this list the stigma of being branded the number one Judicial Hellhole in the United States. The City of St. Louis even surpassed Madison County, Illinois – the jurisdiction just across the Mississippi river that inspired ATRF to create the Hellholes report a decade ago (Madison County is ranked sixth alongside Cook County and St. Clair County, Illinois). It is important to note early that the purpose of this Alert is to report on the jurisdiction being placed at the top of a list that garners more attention each year and to summarize ATRF's reasoning for declaring the City of St. Louis the nation's worst jurisdiction for civil justice. Lewis Rice LLC makes no representations or adoptions of the opinions or statements expressed in the Report, a full copy of which is available for your individual consideration by clicking under "Resources" below.

Judicial Hellholes is an annual publication from ATRF that selects a handful of jurisdictions it deems the most unfriendly to defendants in civil litigation. ATRF considers recent jury verdicts from a jurisdiction, applicable venue and evidentiary laws, individual rulings from local judges, conduct of local attorneys, and related factors when selecting that year's list of Hellholes. With the well-publicized trilogy of talcum powder verdicts against manufacturer Johnson & Johnson that totaled $197 million this year, it is not surprising St. Louis caught ATRF's attention. But why did the City of St. Louis earn the top slot?

According to the Hellholes Report, ATRF perceives the City of St. Louis as a jurisdiction that:

  • "Is a magnet for product liability lawsuits and consumer class actions"
  • Has become "notorious for 'fast trials, favorable rulings, and big awards'"
  • Hosted "gigantic verdicts" in talc, asbestos, PCB, and other lawsuits in 2016 that accounted for four of the six largest products liability verdicts in the nation
  • Is subject to venue laws that allow plaintiffs to "travel from across the country to sue in the City of St. Louis," which led Bloomberg Business to call St. Louis a home for "litigation tourism" in a September 2016 article
  • Is subject to "a lenient standard for expert testimony" that ATRF argues enables plaintiffs to present "junk science" to civil juries as evidence of causation, as opposed to the "more exacting Daubert standard" of evidence applied in many other states; and
  • is "also fast becoming one of the personal injury bar's favorite jurisdictions for asbestos claims and consumer class actions."

The Report details each of these points, among others to explain why ATRF selected the City of St. Louis as the number one Hellhole for 2016. St. Louis is not alone on the list, though, and the report also details its analysis of eight other "Hellhole" jurisdictions, including: (2) California; (3) New York City Asbestos Litigation (NYCAL); (4) Florida Supreme Court and South Florida; (5) New Jersey; (6) Cook, Madison, and St. Clair Counties, Illinois; (7) Louisiana; (8) Newport News, Virginia; and (9) Hidalgo County, Texas. Nearby McLean County, Illinois also earned a "Dishonorable Mention" in the Report due to its growing asbestos docket and recent verdicts from the jurisdiction in favor of un-impaired plaintiffs.

For more information on litigation trends and developments in he City of St. Louis, or for information regarding this alert, please contact Rick Walsh, Win Reed, or Corey Schaecher.

Resources

Firm Highlights
Client Alert

Employers, Start Planning Now – Get Ahead with the Upcoming H-1B Cap Season

More
News

Lindsay S. C. Brinton and Meghan S. Largent Negotiate $1.4 Million Settlement for Landowners along Legacy Trail

More
Client Alert

New York State Regulator Discourages Ransomware Payments and Publishes New Cyber Insurance Risk Framework

More
News

Kansas City Office of Lewis Rice Names New Member

More
News

Paul R. Himmelstein Joins Lewis Rice Kansas City Office

More
Diversity & Inclusion

Apollo Carey Selected for Leadership Council on Legal Diversity’s (LCLD’s) 2021 Fellows Program

More
News

David W. Sweeney Named to Missouri’s POWER List for Lawyer-Lobbyists by Missouri Lawyers Media

More
Client Alert

Have You Done Your Annual CCPA Housekeeping?

More
News

Jeremy P. Brummond’s Article on Waivers of Consequential Damages is Published in Construction Executive

More
Client Alert

Supreme Court Decision Provides Good News for Creditors

More
Diversity & Inclusion

Fatima G. Khan Elected President of South Asian Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis

More
News

Jerina D. Phillips Offers COVID-19 Vaccination Advice for Employers in St. Louis Magazine Article

More
Client Alert

Virginia Passes Sweeping Data Privacy Legislation Similar to CCPA and GDPR

More
Diversity & Inclusion

Jerina D. Phillips Selected for Leadership Council on Legal Diversity’s (LCLD’s) 2021 Pathfinder Program

More
News

David W. Sweeney Interviewed in Realtime REALTOR® Podcast on Changes to Elections in the City of St. Louis

More
News

Lewis Rice Wins Significant Victory for Atlanta Landowners Impacted by the Belt Line Rail-Trail

More
News

Lewis Rice Names Brian J. Figueroa Member of the Firm

More
News

Brian P. Pezza Discusses Vaccination Considerations for Employees in Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Article

More
Client Alert

City of St. Louis 2021 Primary Municipal Election: Meet the Candidates

More