West Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, California Ranked Worst Lawsuit Climates In The Nation

West Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, California Ranked Worst Lawsuit Climates In The Nation

LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) on March 22 released its survey ranking the states with the best and worst legal climates in the country. According to the survey, the states with the worst legal climates are California (46th), Alabama (47th), Mississippi (48th), Louisiana (49th) and West Virginia (50th). The states with the best legal climates are Delaware (1st), North Dakota (2nd), Nebraska (3rd), Indiana (4th) and Iowa (5th).

The survey also shows that a state’s legal climate affects how and where a company does business and creates jobs. Two-thirds, or 67 percent, of the 1,482 corporate lawyers and executives contacted say a state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their company, such as where to locate or expand their businesses. That is up 10 percent from just three years ago.

“With one in ten Americans out of work and record-high jobless rates in states like California, states can no longer afford to discourage new business and new jobs as a result of a dysfunctional legal climate," said Lisa A. Rickard, president of the ILR. “States, particularly those at the bottom of the list, desperately need more jobs, not more lawsuits."

Harris Interactive conducted the survey Lawsuit Climate 2010: Ranking the States by telephone and online from October 2009 to January 2010. The respondents — general counsels and senior attorneys or executives in companies with annual revenues of at least $100 million — were asked to rank states for their overall treatment of tort, contract and class action litigation. Among other elements, respondents also ranked states for the impartiality and competence of its judges and the fairness of its juries.

ILR also announced a new national advertising campaign called “Jobs, Not Lawsuits," which will include movie trailers to be shown on more than 300 movie screens throughout the country. The two-minute trailers feature the stories of businesses that were the subject of costly lawsuits substantially impacting their companies. In one story, an after-school youth basketball facility in Sacramento, Calif., was forced to close after legal bills from fighting a lawsuit drained the company’s finances.

“The silver screen is the perfect place to tell these true stories of businesses that have been victimized by an unfair legal system,"’ Rickard said. “We want people to see the real life consequences of these lawsuits."

ILR seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative, political, judicial and educational activities at the national, state, and local levels.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation, representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations. For more information, visit www.uschamber.com.