Tort reform group criticizes Clark County court system

An organization that advocates for tort reform has listed Clark County as a "judicial hellhole."

Citing news stories, the American Tort Reform Association stated in its annual Judicial Hellholes report that Clark County's judges are believed to be biased. The report didn't mention names of judges alleged to be biased but said many of the 799 Clark County attorneys surveyed said that certain judges favor one side in a case.

"Defense lawyers continue to feel that the scales of justice are tipped against them in Clark County," said Tiger Joyce, president of the American Tort Reform Association, in a prepared statement.

The report, to be released today, also criticized attorneys, citing a June issue of Nevada Lawyer. Sixty percent of attorneys questioned in a different survey said the ethical standards and practices of lawyers were declining.

The American Tort Reform Association's Judicial Hellholes report didn't include data showing why Clark County should be considered a judicial hellhole. Instead, it used several recent high-profile cases to make its point, including the doctor-lawyer federal case involving attorney Noel Gage.

Federal prosecutors alleged Gage conspired with doctors to defraud patients out of millions. A jury deadlocked and a senior federal judge later dropped the charges against Gage.

The American Tort Reform Association is against personal injury lawyers who sue insurance and tobacco companies, among others. Critics have said the American Tort Reform Association is merely a front for corporations that push for tort reform in America.

The organization also calls the following judicial hellholes: West Virginia, South Florida, Cook County, Ill., Atlantic County, New Jersey, Montgomery and Macon counties, Ala., and Los Angeles County, Calif.

In 2004, Nevada passed a $350,000 cap on damages for pain and suffering in medical malpractice.

Contact reporter David Kihara at or 702-380-1039.