A business-backed group's annual report of the nation's "judicial hellholes" mentions both St. Clair and Madison counties in Illinois.
Though neither county is among the American Tort Reform Association's 2009 list of hellholes, Madison County made the group's "watch list," and St. Clair County is listed as one of several "areas to watch."
A national association of plaintiff attorneys called the report a piece of propaganda financed by corporations.
Madison County, which in prior years has been No. 1 on the hellhole list, is again seeing a surge in asbestos lawsuits, according to tort association's newest report, issued Tuesday.
"After a sharp declined in asbestos cases, the number of filings doubled between 2006 and 2008," the report states. "As this report goes to press, that number is still rising. With two months remaining in 2009 . . . lawyers had filed 656 new asbestos cases in Madison County, compared with 639 in all of 2008."
The report credits Chief Judge Ann Callis and Circuit Judge Dan Stack as being reform-minded, but notes that Stack, who handled the asbestos docket, is retiring. Circuit Judge Barb Crowder is expected to take over the asbestos docket.
The report also notes a spirit of openness that Callis and other Madison County judges have adopted.
"In sum, while Madison County continues to generate some concern, there are positive signs that the judiciary is continuing to implement positive reforms," the report states.
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