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April 22, 2008

Despite Reforms, Texas Among Nation’s Worst Legal Climates

WASHINGTON, DC – Texas remains one of the ten worst legal climates in the country, according to Lawsuit Climate 2008: Ranking the States, an annual assessment of state liability systems conducted by Harris Interactive, a leading national market research firm, and released today by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). 

The new study shows the Texas legal climate ranked 41st in the nation, up three spots over last year.  In addition, several Texas jurisdictions were once again named among the least fair and reasonable court systems in the country. 

“The survey results show how a handful of jackpot jurisdictions can drag down the reputation of the entire state,” said Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  “Despite the reforms adopted by the 2003 Legislature, many in the national business community still regard the Rio Grande Valley and the Gulf Coast as unreasonable legal environments due to the high number of lawsuits, large awards and unfair day-to-day practices concerning class certification, discovery, evidentiary rulings and jury instructions.”

 “The best thing a state can do to attract business is to have a fair legal system,” said Donohue.  “Attitudes about Texas’ legal climate will only improve once the courts in these individual jurisdictions begin complying with the spirit and letter of the law.”

The Harris survey is the preeminent standard by which companies, policymakers and the media measure the legal environment of states.  ILR is launching a national advertising campaign highlighting the results of the study and the need for comprehensive legal reform.

Harris asked 957 senior attorneys to evaluate up to five states in which they were “very” or “somewhat familiar” with that state’s litigation environment.  Survey respondents assigned each state a letter grade for each of 12 different factors affecting the states’ tort liability system, ranging from the overall treatment of tort and contract litigation to judges’ competence and impartiality, and Harris computed an overall score for each state based on these evaluations.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation, representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.

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