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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.

 
Larry Ribstein, RIP PDF Print E-mail

By Geoffrey Manne

This morning our dear colleague, Larry Ribstein, passed away. The intellectual life of everyone who knew him and of the legal academy at large is deeply diminished for his passing.

For me, as for many others, Larry was an important influence, not only intellectually but personally, as well. Larry was the godfather of Truth on the Market, which got its start when a few of us, including Bill Sjostrom, Josh, Thom and me, pinch hit for Larry at Ideoblog in November 2005. It took eight of us, including my dad, to fill his shoes, and still his traffic went down. More than anyone else, Larry was instrumental in my decision to leave law teaching to work at Microsoft. Completely unsure what to do and worried about how it would affect my ability to return to law teaching, I called Larry, who had no doubt. He sealed the deal by pointing out that a move like that one would open some completely unanticipated, and potentially great, career paths and telling me not to worry so much about getting back to law teaching. He was right, of course, and, thus also an important influence on the creation of the International Center for Law and Economics. And Larry was a friend, one of those I always looked forward to seeing at ALEA and other conferences, more than once providing the necessary marginal incentive to attend.

We grieve for Ann, Sarah and Susannah and mourn his passing.

The outpouring in the blogosphere from Larry’s friends, admirers, colleagues, and the like is, not surprisingly, moving. As they are found, remembrances will be posted here at Truth on the Market.

 
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