The Commonwealth’s legal climate has received another notorious distinction – this time as one of the country’s worst environments for nuclear judicial verdicts. The negative designation comes from the U.S. Chamber’s Institute of Legal Reform’s recently published Nuclear Verdicts report.
The report defines a nuclear verdict as a jury verdict of $10 million or more in personal injury and medical malpractice lawsuits and covers the time period between 2010 and 2019. The data compiled shows that during that time period, there were 78 reported nuclear verdicts in Pennsylvania, totaling $11 billion awarded. The median verdict was $20 million.
According to the report, more than half of the Commonwealth’s nuclear verdicts took place in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas has long been viewed as a judicial hotbed. It has routinely been ranked as a top “Judicial Hellhole” by the American Tort Reform Foundation’s annual report of the country’s most unjust courts and state civil justice systems that are ripe for lawsuit abuse.
In a press release, PCCJR Executive Director Curt Schroder noted that the number of nuclear verdicts in the state is expected to increase as a result of the Supreme Court’s recent decision to allow for forum shopping in medical liability cases.
“The report is just further proof that the scales of justice in Pennsylvania are unfairly tilted to the benefit of plaintiffs’ attorneys…With forum shopping once again allowed in the state, trial lawyers will be flocking to Philadelphia and other high-verdict jurisdictions in an attempt to score jackpot paydays,” Schroder said.
He went on to encourage state lawmakers to address venue once and for all to bring fairness and balance back to the state’s legal environment.