The much anticipated list of judicial hellholes is out. Baltimore made the list once again.
The write up on Baltimore begins with the notion that for evidence that Baltimore is a judicial hellhole, well just ask Miller & Zois.
Baltimore has been described as an up-and-coming Judicial Hellhole for years, but don’t just take our word for it. Plaintiffs’ firms, such as Miller & Zois, advertise Baltimore as “a favorable jurisdiction for plaintiffs’ injury lawyers.
Is Miller & Zois calling the city a jurisdiction “favorable” for plaintiffs’ attorneys tantamount to prove that Baltimore is a “judicial hellhole” for defendants? If so, I really need to adjust my expectations.
But that is just the start. This report prefers rhetoric to exactitude at every turn and basically reads like a college term paper that was turned in a that last minute. It complains “Judge Glenn” – actually retired Judge Glynn – is rigging the asbestos docket. How? The report does not exactly say. It implies it is by consolidating the cases. Yes, the asbestos cases in Baltimore are consolidated. Baltimore joins a zillion other jurisdictions that have done the same thing. Why? The cases are consolidated on causation, not product identification or damages. This is not a class action lawsuit. The cases are consolidated on damages because it is simple to prove. If you got mesothelioma you either got it from asbestos or you were a vermiculite miner. Call me crazy, I’m willing to let the court figure this out for scheduling purposes.
This is how this report reads from top to bottom. The whole premise of this beat down of Baltimore is just filled with unsupported innuendo. The impression left is that asbestos cases being filed in the city are because of forum shopping, Plaintiffs’ attorneys looking to get to these juries. But the auto plants, shipyards and steel mills, as well as many of the other defendants (Locke Insulators, for example) are located in Baltimore. That’s not forum shopping, it is filing a lawsuit where the harm occurred.
The downright fictions and convenient distortions continue. Baltimore juries are not “notoriously biased against business defendants.” No evidence is cited. The report really focuses on asbestos cases. Yeah, Baltimore juries are mad at asbestos defendants. So is pretty much every jury under the sun that have had a chance to evaluate the evidence.
The report also takes on Maryland’s voir dire process which I have also complained about myself. But the report makes it sound like Maryland’s truncated voir dire process disadvantages defense attorneys when the benefits and perils of the system impact both sides of the aisle equally. Meaningless voir dire conducted based purely on how someone looks at what their job is hurts plaintiffs as much as defendants.
But this car really comes off the hinges when it comes to comparative negligence. Maryland, the state that houses Baltimore, is actually considering adopting comparative negligence and the court may do it instead of the legislature. Oh the inhumanity.
But wait! Haven’t like 47 other states adopted comparative negligence? Maryland is so nuts to be joining the rest of the country, including states that are redder than red? Isn’t comparative negligance such a mixed bag that their asbestos archvillain Peter Angelos opposes comparative negligence. They also use the words “usurp legislative power” which is a real buzz phrase in tort reform circles for activist judges who make up their own law. Yet these activist judges are the ones who made up contributory negligence in the first place. These folks love activist judges that rule how they want them to rule.
I don’t think Baltimore is anything resembling a judicial hellhole, whatever that stupid phrase means anyway. But an argument can be made that Baltimore juries lean towards victims over defendants. I don’t agree. But the argument can be made. This report does not make that argument.