December 5, 2023 2 min read

St. Louis Ranks No. 8 in Judicial Hellholes® Report

St. Louis has once again captured national attention, securing the No. 8 spot on the American Tort Reform Foundation’s (ATRF) 2023-2024 Judicial Hellholes® report. This marks the tenth year that jurisdictions in Missouri have been named on the list.

“The facts cited in the ATRF’s report are all too familiar to those of us who see the impact of Missouri’s unbalanced tort system on our state’s job creators,” said Dan Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO. “Trial attorneys have poured millions into Missouri’s media and politicians to maintain their grip on our state courts, and it is costing Missouri jobs. We know that Missouri’s unfair legal climate hurts our state’s economic competitiveness, so we’ll continue to fight for reforms in Jefferson City.”

The report specifically cites concerns about the thousands of lawsuits against Monsanto in St. Louis over Roundup® weedkiller and the use of dubious experts in these cases, casting doubt on the credibility of scientific evidence. 

“Judges must fulfill their duties as gatekeepers and ensure that only generally accepted science is presented to juries in order to protect the integrity of the court system,” American Tort Reform Association President Tiger Joyce said.

The report also shows how lawsuit abuse and excessive tort costs annually erode billions from Missouri’s economy. St. Louis residents pay nearly $1,608 each year in a “tort tax,” hampering the city’s economic potential. Statewide, Missouri residents’ annual tort tax nears $1,000, while nearly 58,000 jobs are lost each year due to excessive tort costs. 

Additionally, trials in St. Louis increasingly result in extreme jury awards – known as nuclear verdicts – exceeding $10 million, according to the report.

“These massive payouts are a significant burden on the state’s economy and increase costs for everyone,” Joyce said.

ATRF also points to the sway of trial lawyers amid Missouri’s legislative gridlock, with some state lawmakers accepting substantial campaign contributions. 

“The trial bar’s significant financial backing raises concerns about its impact on legislative decisions, putting the integrity of the legislative process at stake,” Joyce said.

Notably, Sen. Mike Moon (R-Ash Grove) is seeking re-election and has accepted nearly $25,000 in campaign contributions from the trial bar. Similarly, Sen. Bill Eigel (R-Weldon Spring) is vying for the Republican gubernatorial nomination and has accepted nearly $33,000 in trial bar donations across his campaigns. The Believe in Life and Liberty PAC, a political action committee backing Eigel, has received over $300,000 in trial lawyer contributions.

Voters can use the Missouri Chamber’s Money Trail to track contributions made by trial lawyers and labor organizations.

“Despite these challenges, hope for reform persists,” Joyce said. “The imperative now is for lawmakers, judges and citizens to collaborate in addressing these issues head-on. Missourians must unite in advocating for legal reform to spur economic growth, support small businesses and restore faith in the legal system.”

The 22nd edition of the annual report published by ATRF names nine Judicial Hellholes® across the country:

1. Georgia

1. Supreme Court of Pennsylvania & Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas

2. Cook County, Illinois

3. California

4. New York City

5. South Carolina Asbestos Litigation

6. Lansing, Michigan

7. Louisiana

8. St. Louis

The full report is available at


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