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Further Empirical Evidence on Forum Shopping in Philadelphia Civil Courts PDF Print E-mail

Updated Report with Appendix
Appendix only

Late last year the International Center for Law and Economics published a study finding that Philadelphia civil courts, and the Philadelphia Complex Litigation Center (PCLC) in particular, are marked by structural biases that likely attract plaintiffs with little or no connection to the city, leading to relatively disproportionate litigation and verdicts. Today we release a supplemental appendix to the study, also authored by Professor of Law and Economics at George Mason University School of Law, Joshua D. Wright, presenting further research demonstrating that, indeed, a substantial fraction of plaintiffs with cases pending at the Philadelphia Complex Litigation Center seem to have have no discernible or relevant connection to Philadelphia or to Pennsylvania.

Removing cases that were identified as lacking sufficient data, 1,370 cases were analyzed and coded. From this sample the plaintiff’s home address was identified in 1,355 cases. Of these, 638 cases had electronically filed complaints yielding the alleged location of injury in 369 cases.

In total, it was found that:

  • Of the 1,357 cases, 913 (67.2%) were brought by plaintiffs who live out-of-state without any apparent connection to Pennsylvania or Philadelphia. 
  • Only 180 cases (13.3%) reveal plaintiffs who live in or allege injury in Philadelphia. 
  • The most substantial case types where the plaintiffs were overwhelmingly out-of-state are hormone therapy, denture adhesive cream, and Paxil birth defect cases. 
  • Although most or all of the companies involved in these cases do business in Philadelphia and a few have some sort of administrative offices there, the vast majority of defendants do not have their principal place of business in Philadelphia or even in Pennsylvania. It is unlikely that venue was moved to the PCLC in most or any of the cases. 

This preliminary analysis supports the conclusion that Philadelphia courts demonstrate a meaningful preference for plaintiffs by coaxing “business” from other courts and providing a unique combination of advantages for plaintiffs.

Here is the full report with the new appendix attached; the Appendix by itself is available here. Please contact us if you are interested in speaking with Professor Wright about the report or would like a comment on the report or the pending legislation.