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February 19, 2004

Institute for Legal Reform Applauds Miss. Supreme Ct Ruling

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Chamber of Commerce and its Institute for Legal Reform applauded a ruling by the Mississippi Supreme Court that is expected to help curb the practice of forum shopping – a process where plaintiffs’ lawyers file lawsuits in a court district with a reputation for favorable verdicts – by placing common-sense limits on the ability to join parties in mass tort lawsuits.

“This ruling is one step toward restoring some much-needed fairness to a troubled civil justice system,” said Lisa Rickard, president of the Institute for Legal Reform, noting that Mississippi ranked 50th in the last annual ranking of state liability systems. Those rankings highlight the most abusive liability climates in the country.

Rickard said that the Court’s ruling should limit future unfair “joinder” cases and cut down on the number of multi-party lawsuits filed in Mississippi.

“I commend the Court for its clear thinking on this matter and hope the Mississippi legislature follows suit by passing comprehensive legal reform legislation this year,” added Rickard.

The case, (Janssen Pharmaceutica v. Colantha Armond), involved 56 plaintiffs suing Janssen Pharmaceutica and 42 prescribing physicians for injuries allegedly suffered as a result of taking the drug Propulsid. Only one of the plaintiffs, Colantha Armond, resides in Jones County, where the lawsuit was filed. None of the prescribing physicians resides there. Further, the Court ruled, because the plaintiffs’ claims were separate and individual, joining the claims was improper and prejudiced the defendants.

The mission of the Institute for Legal Reform is to make America’s legal system simpler, fairer and faster for everyone. It seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative, political, judicial and educational activities at the national, state and local levels.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.

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