Wright in WSJ: Philadelphia as Legal Venue of Choice

A Wall Street Journal article dealing with venue shopping in the Pennsylvania court system cited research by Professor Joshua Wright showing Philadelphia plaintiffs are less likely to settle than plaintiffs elsewhere and show a clear preference for jury trials.

Wright's report on the topic was for the International Center for Law and Economics and was based on data from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. Wright found that Philadelphia juries find in favor of plaintiffs more often than non-Philadelphia juries "by as much as 23.7% in absolute terms in 2005."

Currently plaintiffs can choose the Philadelphia courts over local Pennsylvania venues. A new plan under consideration by the state's House Judiciary Committee would change the court's jurisdiction rules such that local courts could hear personal injury cases only in instances where the plaintiff is a resident, a corporation is headquartered, or the incident occurred within the district.

The City of Unbrotherly Torts, Wall Street Journal, December 3, 2011.

"Verdicts are routinely north of $1 million, and last year the city was named America's number one judicial hellhole in the annual ranking by the American Tort Reform Foundation.

"Slowly, the political system has been fighting back. In 2002, a reform took on forum shopping for medical malpractice claims, which were raising insurance rates for small-town doctors who found themselves sued in Philadelphia.

"Another reform in June of this year restricted joint and several liability, which had allowed plaintiffs to collect 100% of their award from any defendant, even those minimally liable. The provision has been a major deterrent to business investment in a state that could use more jobs. The reform restricts companies that are less than 60% liable in a case with multiple defendants to covering only their share of the verdict."