Philly Courts Buried Beneath Mountains of Lawsuits

Back in 2009, the Philadelphia court system was facing budget cuts, so a judge propositioned potential plaintiffs to bring their lawsuits (and filing fees) to Philly. This plea, coupled with Big Pharma’s heavy presence in Eastern Pennsylvania, has significantly increased the volume of lawsuits landing in Philly. Since the judge’s plea in ’09, the city’s court system—especially the Complex Litigation Center, which handles asbestos and pharmaceutical cases—has seen a flood of filings.

Since 2008, the backlog of asbestos and pharmaceutical cases has shot up from about 2,600 to more than 6,100 through last month. Last year, 88% of the pharmaceutical cases were filed by out-of-state plaintiffs, according to the court.

Now, Judge John Herron is the man left using his thumb to plug the hole in the dam.

Since taking over as the administrative judge late last year, he has put into place several measures designed to reverse the trend—and to send a message to out-of-state lawyers to take their lawsuits to other courts. “Go elsewhere,” he says, when asked to describe the message he is hoping to send to out-of-state lawyers. “There are a lot of really wonderful courts in the U.S., and you should make broader use of them.” [Wall Street Journal]