Citing a “culture of litigation,” American Tort Reform Association says that excessive litigation has compromised access, affordability of prescription drugs; schools in Atlantic County also hurt.

TRENTON, N.J. – A report released today by the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) places New Jersey�s courts at number 4 in its annual list of “Judicial Hellholes,” with a particularly dire situation in Atlantic County.

“Every dollar spent defending against a groundless lawsuit is a dollar that won’t be spent on research and development, capital investment, worker training or job creation,” said ATRA President Sherman “Tiger” Joyce. “Unfortunately for those living in Hellholes jurisdictions during this economic downturn, it can be that much harder to find or keep a job and get critical health care services as employers and doctors are driven away by the threat of costly litigation.”

“Ninety-three percent of the lawsuits filed against our pharmaceutical companies were from out-of-state litigants, whose cases would never see the light of day in their home jurisdictions,” added Marcus Rayner, Executive Director of the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance (NJLRA). “Instead of being the nation�s ‘medicine cabinet,’ the trial bar is turning New Jersey into the nation’s lottery ticket instead.”

Even more alarming is the impact that excessive litigation is having on Atlantic City’s struggling school district. The report notes that the Atlantic City School District spent roughly $1.5 million on legal services last year, more than every other school district in the state by a substantial margin. This school year, Atlantic City has budgeted $1.16 million for its legal services, equating to approximately $184.00 for each student in the district.

“We have a lot of problems, and a lot of lawsuits… we’re trying to recoup costs for frivolous lawsuits,” said School Superintendent Fredrick P. Nickles.

The full text of ATRA’s report can be found on NJLRA’s website,