WASHINGTON, DC – Delaware ranks first among all fifty states in the fairness of its litigation environment, a position it has held for seven years running, according to Lawsuit Climate 2008: Ranking the States, an annual assessment of state liability systems conducted by Harris Interactive and released today by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR).
“Although Delaware’s court system has a well-deserved reputation for reasonableness,” said Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “it needs to recognize that other states are catching up.” He noted that Delaware edged second place finisher Nebraska by only 0.2 points in the raw score. Last year’s margin over the runner-up was 5 points.
Donohue said the national business community has growing concern about the number of asbestos-related lawsuits filed by out-of-state plaintiffs.
Delaware was ranked number one in eight of the twelve categories in this year’s report, one fewer than last year. Notable changes in its ranking include a drop to 13th place on jury predictability, and a 10th place ranking on jury fairness.
ILR is launching a national advertising campaign highlighting the results of the study and the need for comprehensive legal reform. The Harris survey is the preeminent standard by which companies, policymakers and the media measure the legal environment of states.
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.