South Carolina was named the fourth worst “hellhole of justice” in america for asbestos litigation
(The Center Square) – South Carolina has been named the fourth worst “hellhole of justice” by the American Tort Reform Foundation (ATRF) as retired South Carolina Supreme Court Justice Jean Toal handled the state’s asbestos litigation .
ATRFs Hell Holes Report 2020-21, released Tuesday, identified the country’s most unfair local courts and state civil justice systems to expose imbalances in the system.
That year, South Carolina was ranked fourth worst in the nation after the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, New York City and California.
“South Carolina is a very important place for asbestos disputes,” said ATRF Executive Director Tiger Joyce in a virtual press conference on Tuesday. “The sanctions imposed by defendants – defense lawyers tell us that the level and scale of what is going on there is unprecedented.”
After resigning as Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court in 2015 due to mandatory retirement requirements, Toal was tasked with overseeing the asbestos litigation in South Carolina.
In this role, according to the ATRF report, Toal has “shown a worrying pattern of abuse of the discovery process, unfair penalties during trial and low standards of expert evidence.”
According to the report, Toal raised the jury award amount twice when it believed the jury had not awarded enough money to a plaintiff. in one case by more than $ 1.6 million and in another by more than $ 400,000.
During a 2018 trial, Toal told a jury that the defendant had exposed the plaintiff to asbestos. After hearing the evidence, the jury sided with the defendant. Toal later invoked the South Carolina 13th Juror Doctrine, made herself the 13th female juror on the case, and led to a hanging jury and mistrial. Toal then ordered a new process, ATRA explained.
“If Judge Toal continues to monitor the state’s asbestos files, trial lawyers and their clients will know they can turn to South Carolina, a hellhole of justice, to exploit Judge Toal’s disturbing and unfair practices for a huge payoff,” said Toal Joyce in a statement. “We urge the state of South Carolina to address these issues and return asbestos handling to individual counties.”