April 8, 2003

Georgia’s Legal System Ranking Plunges

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 9, 2003 – The United States Chamber of Commerce’s second annual poll of corporate counselors and senior litigators on the fairness or reasonableness of state liability systems gave Georgia a “C-” rating and continued to find a majority of states deserve a grade of fair to poor. The state ranks 39 this year, a significant drop from 23 in 2002

“Without real and meaningful reform, Georgia’s legal system is at risk of getting a worse reputation. Yet, if lawmakers take bold action and pass legal reform, such as the class action bill, they will bring great benefits to the people they serve — more jobs, more investment and more revenues to pay for schools, roads and health care,” said Thomas Donohue, Chamber President and CEO.

The Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform commissioned Harris Interactive to interview more than 900 corporate attorneys. The survey found an overwhelming majority of those polled (82 percent) said a state’s litigation environment affects important decisions, such as where to locate or do business. And 65 percent ranked state court liability systems as only “fair” or “poor,” up from 57 percent last year.

According to the survey, Georgia ranks just above Florida, which is in the “poor” category. States with a failing grade include Mississippi, West Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas. The Chamber is running full-page ads in national newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, and in select newspapers in states at the bottom of the list. The states with the best legal systems were Delaware, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and Indiana.

“When abusive lawsuits rush in, new jobs stay out,” Donohue added. “States must know that if they maintain legal systems that are unfair for companies, those companies can and will go elsewhere.”

Survey respondents – companies with annual revenues of at least $100 million – were asked to grade 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 and predictability.

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