Venue Reform

Venue reform would limit where a plaintiff could file their lawsuit. Most calls for venue reform include limiting plaintiffs to filing in the county where they reside or the county where the injury occurred.

Proponents for venue reform argue that plaintiffs’ attorneys “shop” their cases to areas with a history of large jury awards. Some states allow plaintiffs to file their lawsuit in any county where the defendants conducted business, kept an office, or practiced.

In the same way that plaintiffs could theoretically “venue shop” for the best jurisdiction, if venue reform were enacted, doctors could “venue shop” for where to practice with the least possible risk. If a certain county is perceived as pro-plaintiff, won’t doctors avoid practicing there, or at least avoid performing high-risk procedures there? Venue shopping could result in a healthcare shortage in certain cities, creating a crisis for those in need of specialized medical care.

And speaking of shortages, our county courts are facing unprecedented budget cuts that have resulted in staff layoffs and a backlog of cases. Instead of relying on an already overburdened local court, some plaintiffs seek relief in larger court systems.

Larger court systems have several advantages over smaller, local ones. These courts typically have the expertise needed to hear complex cases, and they also have the resources to handle litigation in a timely and efficient manner.

Enacting venue reform will simply bog down cases in local courts, and insurers are betting that injured patients don’t have the time or resources to wage a lengthy legal fight. They rightly assume that victims are more likely to settle for less than they deserve to avoid years of potential litigation, and smaller settlements translate to less justice for injured patients and more premium dollars in insurers’ hands.