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March 16, 2004

Institute for Legal Reform Applauds White House Call for Legal Reform to Save U.S. Jobs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) today commended U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow for his comments in support of comprehensive legal reform to halt the negative economic impact of excessive litigation.

“Lawsuit abuse raises consumer prices, cripples companies, drives down shareholder value and clogs our courts with frivolous lawsuits that do little more than enrich unscrupulous trial lawyers,” said Lisa Rickard, president of ILR. “We commend the administration’s call for comprehensive legal reform and urge Congress to pass the Class Action Fairness Act and asbestos litigation reform to cut short this growing legal crisis.”

ILR recently released its annual State Liability Systems Ranking Study to highlight the country’s best and worst legal environments. The ILR/Harris Interactive survey of more than 1,400 senior attorneys, now in its third year, also found that an overwhelming 80% of respondents reported that the litigation environment in a state could affect important business decisions at their company, such as where to locate or do business. That statistic does not bode well for lower-ranked states, many of which are struggling to attract new businesses that will create new jobs.

“America’s civil justice system is the world’s most expensive, with a total cost of $233 billion to our economy,” said Rickard, who noted that litigation costs the average American family of four an extra $3,200 a year. “Lawsuit abuse is a drain on our economic vitality. Without legislative action to reform the civil justice system, it’s only going to get worse.”

The mission of the Institute for Legal Reform is to make America’s legal system simpler, fairer and faster for everyone. It 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 more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.

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