It seems that the tort reformists once again are continuing their attacks on the Philadelphia court system. In a recent article, Philadelphia was listed as the top of eight jurisdictions deemed “hellholes" by the American Tort Reform Foundation with California following second. Tort Reformists claim that Philadelphia judges systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner generally against defendants in civil lawsuits. Despite the protestations being made by the American Tort Law Reform Association, the question that really must be asked is “Is justice being served?"
Tort Reformists are quick to point out how citizens and lawyers take advantage of certain jurisdictions in America’s legal system. However, if one would look to the lobbyists and corporate bank rollers of the tort reform movement, it is always interesting to note how big business spins the media against lawyers and innocent civilians, throwing any and all obstacles in the way to block their access to the courtrooms.
I watched a documentary on HBO this summer entitled “Hot Coffee," and I cannot recommend this movie highly enough. It is the real story of the infamous McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit and all matters leading to the misleading phrase known as “tort reform." The tort reformists are quick to point to extreme examples of how citizens take advantage of the legal system and why certain jurisdictions are hellholes. The Constitution guarantees the right to all American citizens to be judged by a jury of their peers, and the tort reformists ought to give the judicial system and jurors the actual credit that they deserve. Certainly there are urban legends of frivolous lawsuits, but for the most part to quote Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird,“There is only one way in this country in which all men are created equal. There is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of a college professor. That institution, gentlemen, is the court."