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An Unfair Attack on MN Justice?

December 24, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota has landed on a list of "Judicial Hellholes" for being too tough on big business in civil lawsuits, and a group of attorneys is calling the report "biased." The report by the American Tort Reform Association says a state Supreme Court ruling would allow more than 4,000 people from other states to sue a Pennsylvania-based drug manufacturer in a Minnesota court - a suit that, in their home states, would be dismissed as untimely.

Michael Bryant, president of the Minnesota Association of Justice, says the report is an attempt to create fear about the court system, and he points out that it was funded by insurance, pharmaceutical and tobacco companies.

"Minnesota doesn't belong on the list. They seemed to be overreaching in order to add as many states to the report as they possibly can. To take a limited case that was decided correctly and add it to this report in that way, just is wrong."

Bryant says the Justices in the pharmaceutical case were faced with a legal dilemma and ruled based on the facts at that time. To suggest the ruling was a devious plot to allow hundreds of frivolous lawsuits is ridiculous, he adds. Other states that made the "Judicial Hellholes" list for being tough on corporations in cases brought by consumers include Florida, West Virginia and New Mexico.

In fact, based on Minnesota's judicial track record, the state should be applauded, Bryant says.

"Minnesota continuously comes up as one of the top places to live; it comes up with a good business climate when it's rated, and we have a low number of claims. This is a good state and to suggest anything different, particularly in this manner, with the people they've singled out, just seems wrong."

Since 1998, the number of personal injury cases filed in Minnesota has decreased almost 40 percent, he says.

The report can be found online at www.atra.org.


Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - MN