A report out today claims Philadelphia is home to “one of the finest and most successful urban trial courts in the country” — not a “Judicial Hellhole” as another group’s recent report asserted.
The latest document by the group “Take Back Our Courts,” a civil justice initiative created by the liberal group “Keystone Progress,” contends that rumors that Philadelphia is a plaintiffs’ paradise aren’t true.
“By every measure — qualitative or quantitative, whether they’re by awards or by looking at the clear data — Philadelphia’s courts are among the best in the country, not among the worst,” said Michael Morrill, the executive director of Keystone Progress, Pennsylvania’s largest online progressive organization. “Philadelphia’s median amount for awards for plaintiffs was $20,000,” he said. “New York it’s $227,000 — more than 10 times. Miami $128,000. Los Angeles $106,000.”Morrill said the false statements are fueled by well-funded corporate lobbying groups.Darren McKinney, a spokesman for the American Tort Reform Association, didn’t dispute Keystone’s numbers, but said many cases are settled before trial. “As a defendant, if I fear a plaintiff-friendly jurisdiction and I am sued there, I have significant motivation to settle before running the risk of going to trial because once you go to trial then your fate is in the hands of a judge and a jury,” said McKinney. “And the judge decides what evidence the jury hears.”Michael Morrill, from Keystone Progress, said while courts are supposed to be independent, they can be influenced by public opinion.