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News
January 21, 2002

Chamber Releases Report Card on State Liability Systems

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Chamber of Commerce today released a poll, conducted by HarrisInteractive, assessing the liability systems of all 50 states and ranking them on the perceived fairness or reasonableness of their litigation environments.

“It should come as no surprise that most businesses take into account a state’s liability climate when making decisions,” said Thomas Donohue, Chamber President and CEO. “The degree to which a state is willing to protect business owners from money-hungry class action lawyers, is the degree to which they’ll find business eager to work there.”

An overwhelming majority (78 percent) of the more than 800 corporate general counsels and senior litigators surveyed said a state’s litigation environment affects important decisions such as were to locate or do business. And 57 percent ranked America’s state court liability system as only “fair” or “poor”.

Survey respondents senior attorneys at companies with annual revenues of at least $100 million were asked to give letter grades to all 50 states based on: treatment of class action suits, punitive damages, timeliness of summary judgment/dismissal, discovery, scientific and technical evidence, judges’ impartiality and competence, and juries’ fairness.

The head of the class were Delaware, Virginia, Washington, Kansas, and Iowa. Bringing up the bottom those states perceived as having the worst performance were Mississippi, West Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas.

“This report tells state leaders that one of the best things they can do to ensure economic growth, job creation and expand state revenues is to make their legal systems fairer,” said Donohue. “And states’ with good grades must be wary of importing the policies and precedents of their poor performing neighbors.”

The Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is working to make America’s legal system simpler, fairer and faster for all. The United States Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.

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