Lawsuit Reform

Missouri’s St. Louis is the Nation’s Worst Judicial Hellhole™

A newly released report by the American Tort Reform Association lambastes St. Louis as the worst Judicial Hellhole™ in the country. These “hellholes” are known for systematically misapplying the law in ways that expand liability and ratchet up the cost of doing business in the state. Missouri has long appeared on the Judicial Hellholes™ list, though 2017 marks its first rise to the top.

Lax expert standards that allow junk science in the courtroom, poor venue rules that bring lawsuits from all over the country with few to no local ties, and the lack of statutory guidelines to properly focus the power of the litigation machine have contributed to the lawsuit explosion in St. Louis. In 2016, legislators sent two promising lawsuit reforms to the governor only to see them vetoed. Newly seated Governor Eric Greitens lamented Missouri’s status as a Judicial Hellhole™ in his State of the State address this week and expressed strong support for meaningful reform to help make Missouri more business-friendly and less frivolous lawsuit plagued. The ALEC State Lawsuit Reform website highlights a number of reforms Missouri’s lawsuit system needs in order to function well.

Eight other states or jurisdictions were labeled Judicial Hellholes™ in this year’s report. Together, these jurisdictions represent litigious environments where excessive lawsuits abound and civil justice is out of balance; where judges and courts apply liberally, or even overturn, the law; where plaintiffs’ attorneys push novel theories to expand lawsuit authority; and where legislators pass liability-expanding laws or are unable to pass reasonable limitations on liability.

The 2016-2017 Judicial Hellholes™:

  1. City of St. Louis, Missouri
  2. California
  3. New York City Asbestos Litigation (NYCAL)
  4. Florida Supreme Court and South Florida
  5. New Jersey
  6. Cook, Madison and St. Clair Counties, Illinois
  7. Louisiana
  8. Newport News, Virginia
  9. Hidalgo County, Texas

For more information on these districts and the reasons they’ve fallen on the Judicial Hellholes™ list, visit And check out the ALEC State Lawsuit Reform website to help identify the reforms needed to improve the lawsuit laws in these states.

In Depth: Lawsuit Reform

State legal systems and the liability they exert on businesses and individuals are a disincentive to bad behavior and allow fair players to succeed in the marketplace. When lawsuits inappropriately punish good actors, resources are sucked out of the business economy, away from research & development and job creation. Lawsuit…

+ Lawsuit Reform In Depth