Why would attorneys stay in a hellhole?

December 30, 2013 

If the Madison and St. Clair County courts are such terrible places, why are defense attorneys content to have asbestos cases heard there?

That question has been nagging at us since the latest "judicial hellhole" list came out, with Madison and St. Clair counties listed jointly at No. 5.

The American Tort Reform Foundation, which issues the list, defines "judicial hellhole" as "a place where judges systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner."

So you'd expect defense attorneys to at least try to get cases moved elsewhere. That's particularly true in Madison County, where only one in 10 lawsuits is filed by a plaintiff who ever worked or lived in the county.

But defense attorneys request a change of venue in less than 1 percent of the Madison County asbestos cases. In St. Clair County, attorneys did in six of 135 cases.

The counties may deserve the "hellhole" label, but there's definitely a disconnect between what goes on in the courtrooms and what is being said about the courts.

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