The American Tort Reform Association has once again included Madison and St. Clair counties to its annual listing of so-called Judicial Hellholes
St. Clair was named to the list from 2004 through 2007. Madison County has been on the list in all but one year since 2002.
St. Clair earned its distinction this year after one of its judges retired after overseeing a class-action lawsuit against a pharmaceutical company and then went into private practice suing the drug maker. Madison County, meanwhile, was nominated for the volume of asbestos cases filed there. This year some 814 asbestos cases -- many if not most having nothing to do with Madison County -- are expected to be filed in its circuit court.
Critics of the "judicial hellhole" designation counter that the American Tort Reform Association is simply the mouthpiece of corporations wishing to avoid liability.
"Despite all the chemical companies and polluters behind this front group, it appears ATRA is going green -- recycling the same junk report that has been debunked and ridiculed year after year," Ray De Lorenzi, spokesman for the American Association for Justice, formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, tells the Belleville News-Democrat
Now that's a sound bite!