The excesses of the civil court system came under fire by the American Tort Reform Association, which has labeled California the second worst "judicial hellhole" in the entire country in an annual report that focuses on areas that have developed reputations for uneven justice. Taking the number one spot is Philadelphia. As for California’s number two position, the report’s authors take special care to point out that Los Angeles and Humboldt Counties in particular are the most egregious offenders in the state. The explanation for the ranking of California is as follows:
“California courts are known for wacky consumer class actions, extortionate disability access claims against small businesses, and expansive liability. Awards in Los Angeles are particularly generous. This year’s $208.8 million verdict for a single asbestos claimant, the largest such award in California history, is a prime example. Humboldt County, receiving its first mention in the report, hosted a $677 million class action verdict against a nursing home provider for occasionally falling below the staffing levels required by state regulations. Unfair practices during the trial led Forbes to call the case ‘a tort reform advocate’s dream – meaning a defendant’s worst nightmare.’ And a California Supreme Court ruling that permits private personal injury lawyers to bring enforcement actions on behalf of the state, even though the lawyers’ interest in maximizing their fees may not serve justice in the public interest, also bodes poorly for the future.”
Rules governing personal injury lawsuits have been contentious in California, with the Consumer Attorneys of California and the California Civil Justice Association battling it out over the years; Notably, Capitol Alert points out that in light of the aforementioned report, “The Civil Justice Association is also gearing up for battle and will use the ATRA report as ammunition, saying expansion of lawsuit powers would damage an already moribund economy.”
If you’re interested in reading about more “judicial hellholes,” you can read the full ATRA report here.