WASHINGTON, D.C.—California’s lawsuit climate is among the worst in the country at number 47 out of 50, tying its all-time low ranking in 2012, according to a new national survey released today by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). Among local jurisdictions, more than one in four surveyed cited either Los Angeles or San Francisco as the least fair nationwide.
According to the 2015 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States, 75 percent of senior company attorneys surveyed say a state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their company, including where to locate or expand. That is an 18 percent increase from eight years ago, and an all-time high.
“More business leaders than ever have identified a state’s lawsuit climate as a significant factor in determining their growth and expansion plans,” said Lisa A. Rickard, president of ILR. “California ought to take notice that the results of this survey are of vital significance to continue attracting good jobs.”
California’s lawsuit climate ranked beneath neighboring states Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon, who ranked in the 25th, 35th and 32nd spots, respectively.
Since 2008, California’s state court system has been in a perpetual budget crisis, resulting in the closure of at least 52 courthouses and over 200 courtrooms, as well as reduced services.
Additionally, California has loose rules to bring class action lawsuits, allows wage-and-hour lawsuits over inadvertent record keeping violations, and requires inflated mandatory damages awards.
“Plaintiffs’ lawyers are eager to sue in California because the state’s courts rubber-stamp class actions and inflated judgments,” said Rickard.
In tandem with the survey, ILR today released 101 Ways to Improve State Legal Systems, listing key legal reforms that states can adopt to improve their lawsuit climates. ILR also launched a national media campaign to raise awareness about the importance of a fair and balanced lawsuit system.
Harris Poll, a global polling firm, conducted the 2015 Lawsuit Climate Survey through telephone and online interviews between March 9 and June 24, 2015. The respondents were more than 1,200 general counsels and senior attorneys or leaders in companies with annual revenues of at least $100 million.
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.