Missouri's Lawsuit Climate Ranked Among Nation's Worst

St. Louis Ranked 10th Worst in the Nation for Lawsuits


September 18, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Missouri’s lawsuit climate was ranked 44th in the country in a new national survey released today by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). But the ranking represents improvement for the Show-Me State, moving up five places from the 2017 survey. The city of St. Louis, though, was again the 10th worst jurisdiction in the country.

The 2019 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States, conducted by renowned polling firm The Harris Poll on behalf of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, questioned senior business executives about the fairness and reasonableness of state court systems.

The poor perception of Missouri’s legal climate is critical to its economy because 89 percent of survey participants—an all-time high—said a state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact their company’s decisions about where to locate or do business.

“Missouri is still a plaintiffs’ lawyer’s favorite because of its jaw-dropping verdicts, ridiculous class action lawsuits, and courts that welcome out-of-state plaintiffs,” said Harold Kim, chief operating officer of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. “Missouri has made some improvements to reduce forum shopping and other abuses, but there is still much work to be done.”

Other possible reasons why Missouri’s ranking is so low include:

  • St. Louis is at the center of controversial litigation alleging talcum powder causes cancer. Juries there have returned massive verdicts as high as $4.7 billion in a single case in which 17 of the 22 plaintiffs were from out of state.
  • St. Louis is the sixth-most popular jurisdiction in the country for plaintiffs’ lawyers filing asbestos lawsuits. Eighty percent of the asbestos lawsuits filed in 2018 were by plaintiffs from out of state.

Missouri’s rank has improved as a result of an active, reform-minded legislature and possibly because of recent Missouri Supreme Court rulings reining in forum shopping.

The 2019 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States is the 12th time The Harris Poll has conducted the survey since 2002 for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. The final results are based on interviews with a national sample of 1,307 in-house general counsel, senior litigators or attorneys, and other senior executives who are knowledgeable about litigation matters at public and private companies with annual revenue of at least $100 million.


About the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform

ILR seeks to promote legal reform through legislative, political, judicial, and educational activities at the national, state, and local levels.

About the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

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.

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