A state’s legal climate is an increasingly important factor in business decisions, according to a survey of senior attorneys and executives conducted for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) by Harris Interactive.
Seventy percent of the 1,125 survey respondents say that a state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their companies, such as where to locate or expand their businesses. That is up 13% from just five years ago.
“As our economic downturn has continued, a growing percentage of business leaders have identified a state’s lawsuit climate as significant in determining their growth and expansion plans and the jobs that come along with them,” says Lisa A. Rickard, president of ILR. “That makes the consequences of this survey even more significant to the economic growth of individual states.”
The 2012 State Liability Systems Ranking Study found that 51% of senior attorneys view the fairness and reasonableness of state court liability systems in America as fair or poor. However, the percentage who said that liability systems were excellent or very good reached 49%, up from 44% in 2010. This continues a general upward trend in the overall average score—expressed numerically on a scale of 1 to 100—of state liability systems since the survey began in 2002. From 2002 to 2005, the overall score averaged 52, whereas from 2007 to 2012, the score averaged 59. The score increased 3 points from 2011 to 2012. (Scroll down to see a partial list of best and worst legal climates).
Survey respondents said that the most important issues that policymakers should focus on to improve the litigation environment in their states include limits on discovery, elimination of unnecessary lawsuits, fairness and impartiality, speeding up the trial process, and tort reform.
Participants in the survey were made up of a national sample of 1,125 in-house general counsel, senior litigators or attorneys, and other senior executives who said that they are knowledgeable about litigation matters at companies with at least $100 million in annual revenues.
Respondents were asked to grade states (A–F) in each of the following areas: having and enforcing meaningful venue requirements, overall treatment of tort and contract litigation, treatment of class action suits and mass consolidation suits, damages, timeliness of summary judgment or dismissal, discovery, scientific and technical evidence; judges’ impartiality, judges’ competence, and juries’ fairness. They were also asked to give the state an overall grade for creating a fair and reasonable litigation environment. These elements were then combined to create an overall ranking of state liability systems.
Click here to check out the interactive map and download the report.