Newport News, VA Named a 'Judicial Hellhole'

Date: January 17, 2017

NFIB/VA calls on state legislators to tackle tort reform to protect small business.

In mid-December 2016, the American Tort Reform Foundation (ATRF) released its annual report on the top ‘judicial hellholes’ in the nation. While Virginia overall has a positive reputation for its civil litigation climate, this not the case for one city in the state: Newport News, Virginia, which was named eighth on ATRF’s list.

In Newport News, the report says, legal and evidentiary rulings tilt strongly in favor of plaintiffs, who have an 85 percent win rate, the highest of any U.S. jurisdiction that hears asbestos claims. ATRF writes that “the deck plainly lists against any company brave enough to defend itself at trial in this waterside, shipbuilding town.”

For small business owners, who are at higher risk for legal attacks—and fewer resources to combat them—this kind of system that gives an unfair advantage to one side is disconcerting.

“Running any company is a constant balancing act,” said NFIB/VA State Director Nicole Riley in a statement. “Small business owners have to think through every decision in order to avoid a costly lawsuit down the road. … That’s why we’re asking lawmakers to take a serious look at legal reform. We need to ensure Virginia has a legal environment where everyone is treated equally.”

Visit to read the full ATRF report on Newport News.

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