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The Philadelphia Court system reversed on Thursday, February 16, 2012, a long standing rule of encouraging plaintiffs from out of state to file and try cases in a Philadelphia trial Court.
According to a report released by the Court, a backlog of cases has ensued, which is not in accordance with the guidelines of the ABA. Others hypothesized that the reversal was the result of an ongoing pressure from the industry and the asbestos defense bar to modify how mesothelioma lawsuits are tried in Pennsylvania. It is not clear what the court decree means for plaintiffs from out of state, whose cases are already filed in Philadelphia.
Also abolished by the order is the long standing rule of trying cases in large groups and the use of a process known as reverse bifurcation, which involves trials where the damages are tried before liability. This process was regarded as a key factor in fostering settlement.
Chris Placitella, the chair of the American Association for Justice asbestos litigation group and was named recently by Trial Magazine as among the 100 most influential trial lawyers in America, said, “To be sure, the reversal of the policy behind accepting mesothelioma cases and the trial of mesothelioma cases in Philadelphia is not good for plaintiffs as a whole.”
He also rationalized, saying that, “The silver lining, if there is one, is that those people who develop mesothelioma in Pennsylvania will hopefully have their cases tried sooner with a less crowded docket.”