The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas have tied with Georgia for the #1 Judicial Hellhole in the U.S. according to the American Tort Reform Foundation (ATRF)’s 2023 Judicial Hellholes Report. ATRF attributes Pennsylvania’s top position on the list to the escalating number of nuclear verdicts, medical liability lawsuits, litigation tourism, mass torts litigation in Philadelphia and the Supreme Court’s expansion of liability in the Commonwealth.
“While some may quibble with the terminology of the Report or the rankings themselves, no one can seriously dispute that 2023 marked another year of expanded liability for businesses, healthcare providers, insurers, and other defendants in Pennsylvania,” said Curt Schroder, Executive Director for Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform.
In 2023 alone, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued multiple decisions that actively expanded the liability of small businesses, health care providers and others. The rulings in Bert v Turk, Marion v Bryn Mawr Trust, Brown v City of Oil City and Hangey v Husqvarna held that there is no limit to the amount of punitive damages compared to compensatory damages; created a new cause of action not previously recognized; expanded the scope of premises liability; and further allows for venue shopping of cases respectively.
This expansion is set against the backdrop of a recent trend of nuclear verdicts ($10 million+) and thermonuclear verdicts ($100 million+) in Philadelphia courts. In the past 12 months, Philadelphia courts awarded damages out of proportion to actual harm in at least eight cases.
Meanwhile, medical malpractice case filings in Philadelphia have predictably skyrocketed due to the Supreme Court’s recission of the medical malpractice venue rule. The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas is poised to see a record number of med mal cases filed in 2023. In fact, the number of med mal cases filed in this jurisdiction through Jan – November of 2023 has doubled compared to the number of cases filed during the same time period in 2022.
Schroder remarked: “Some companies will simply stop doing business in Pennsylvania because the legal system is so stacked against them. The good jobs and livelihoods they provide will leave with them.”
The Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform is a 501(c )(6), not-for-profit, nonpartisan advocacy organization comprised of a diverse group of organizations and individuals committed to bringing fairness to Pennsylvania’s courts by raising awareness of civil justice issues and advocating for legal reform. Additional information is available at http://www.paforciviljusticereform.org, https://www.facebook.com/paciviljustice/ or https://twitter.com/paciviljustice.