WASHINGTON, D.C.—Kentucky’s lawsuit climate has worsened and now ranks number 39 out of 50 states according to a new national survey released today by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). That represents a drop of 10 spots in the last seven years.
According to the 2015 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States, 75 percent of company general counsels and senior attorneys 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. “Kentucky ought to take notice that the results of this survey are of vital significance to its economic growth.”
Kentucky joins three of its seven neighboring states with lawsuit climates in the bottom part of the rankings, including: Missouri (42), Illinois (48), and West Virginia (50).
Historically, the Kentucky Supreme Court has struck down legal reform laws including standards of proof for a punitive damages award and time limits for the filing of certain lawsuits.
Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s practice of awarding contracts to private plaintiffs’ firms —many of which have also donated to his campaigns — to sue on behalf of the state, has also raised conflict of interest concerns. Further, Conway has drawn questions from leadership in the state legislature over his diversion of public settlement monies to his preferred projects without legislative approval.
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 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.