HARRISBURG - For the second year in row, Pennsylvania has been named the home of the nation’s worst “Judicial Hellholes,” according to the newly released annual report by the American Tort Reform Foundation. While the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas – long known for its plaintiff-friendly rulings - has made regular appearances on the list in the past, this year the Court is tied with the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court to nab the No. 1 spot in the yearly ranking.
“This report underscores one of the Commonwealth’s most pressing and anti-business challenges – it’s unbalanced and unpredictable legal climate,” said PA Chamber President Gene Barr. “The current state of our civil justice system has a negative impact on taxpayers and the overall economy through reduced investment, increased costs and job loss. Pennsylvania has long been a prime environment for opportunistic trial lawyers – and that situation has now been made worse by Governor Wolf’s veto of targeted COVID-19 liability protections. Already, we’ve seen significant dollars being spent on an advertising campaign to target employers with state and CDC health guidance in place with COVID-related lawsuits. Unfortunately, their actions are to the determent of small businesses, nonprofits, daycare centers, schools and universities and the medical community – who are already struggling to keep their doors open in the pandemic era.”
A Deep Root analysis of KANTAR ad occurrence data shows that the law firm of Morgan & Morgan has heavily targeted the Philadelphia media market, spending nearly three-quarters of a million dollars in seeking COVID-related cases. Additionally, law firms in the region have been promoting the creation of “vaccine practices” to go after companies who have been working tirelessly to produce the COVID-19 vaccines that are needed to get through this dark and trying time.
“The development of COVID-19 vaccines have been heralded as critical to our ability to return to a sense of normalcy,” Barr added. “Across the Commonwealth, the business community has done what has been asked of them to help combat this virus – whether that be changing operations to produce PPE, moving to completely online formats, temporarily shuttering their doors and adhering to state and CDC health guidelines. Yet, Pennsylvania’s legal environment still leaves these employers open to unwarranted lawsuits – which will hinder the state’s economic recovery and sends a red flag to any potential investment. We hope that Pennsylvania’s embarrassing status as a ‘judicial hellhole’ to employers – the same hard-working people who are critical in the effort to bring our state out of this crisis – gives federal lawmakers the impetus to do what the governor would not – and swiftly enact the targeted and temporary safe harbor protections the business community needs.”
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