Counties like Jefferson County, Mississippi and Madison County, Illinois have been called tort “hellholes” by the American Tort Reform Association. But what makes these counties so hot? Why does the size of awards, in the same types of cases, vary dramatically across different regions in the United States?
Based on his pioneering research (with Eric Helland) in Judge and Jury: American Tort Law on Trial, Alex Tabarrok explains how large awards are often driven neither by law nor by economics but by political factors such as judicial elections and socioeconomic factors like high-poverty juries. Tort hellholes are not an accident but rather the product of disturbing features of the U.S. justice system.