WASHINGTON, DC—A new national survey finds that Louisiana’s lawsuit climate is ranked 49th out of 50 compared with other states. In the survey, released today by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), respondents also named New Orleans as one of the worst court systems in the nation, tied for tenth.
The Lawsuit Climate 2010: Ranking the States survey, conducted by Harris Interactive by telephone and online from October 2009 to January 2010, reflects the opinions of 1,482 general counsels and senior attorneys or executives in companies with annual revenues of at least $100 million. Two-thirds, or 67%, of those questioned said a state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their company, such as where to locate or expand their business—up 10% from just three years ago.
“A state’s poor legal climate negatively impacts its economic environment, discourages business expansion and slows the creation of new jobs,” said Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. “At a time when state leaders are working to spur economic development, they must remember that Louisiana needs more jobs, not more lawsuits.”
This year’s survey is the eighth such ranking of the 50 state lawsuit climates since 2002. Louisiana has never been ranked above 47. Joining Louisiana in the bottom five states for legal fairness are California (46th), Alabama (47th), Mississippi (48th), and West Virginia (50th). Survey respondents have consistently placed Louisiana among the five worst states for judges’ impartiality (49th in 2010), judges’ competence (49th), and juries’ fairness (49th).
ILR also announced a new national advertising campaign called “Jobs, Not Lawsuits,” which will include movie trailers to be shown on more than 300 movie screens throughout the country, including in Louisiana. The two-minute trailers feature the stories of small businesses that were the subject of costly lawsuits that had a material impact on their companies.
In one trailer, Monroe, Louisiana, small business owner Mike Carter tells the story of his company’s fight against more than 100 asbestos lawsuits. Carter explains that the suits against Monroe Rubber and Gasket have been filed despite the fact that the company has not handled anything related to asbestos in more than 20 years. Even then, the company was an intermediary seller of a small amount of materials containing encapsulated asbestos, a non-airborne material that remains legal to this day.
ILR 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 the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.