In case you haven't heard about Madison County, Illinois, you should. In recent years it has become infamous as a destination for trial lawyers. Judges and juries were remarkably friendly to nearly any class action lawsuit, leading the American Tort Reform Association to dub it the number one "legal hellhole" in 2003 and 2004 (in 2005 it dropped to merely number four). How bad is it? Between 2003 and 2004, judges certified more than 200 class action lawsuits, more than any jurisdiction in the country.
The trend may be over. The most touted of Madison County's egregious lawsuits, a $10 billion verdict against Philip Morris for claiming "light" cigarettes are less harmful, was thrown out yesterday by the Illinois Supreme Court. Now let's see some federal tort reform.