WASHINGTON, D.C.—Missouri’s lawsuit climate is among the worst in the country at number 42 out of 50, representing an all-time low, according to a new national survey released today by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). 2015 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States participants cited St. Louis’s courts as among the 10 least fair nationwide among local jurisdictions.
At the same time, 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. “Missouri ought to take notice that the results of this survey are of vital significance to its economic vitality.”
Missouri ranked below all eight states that it shares a border with in the survey, except for Illinois, which ranked number 48 out of 50.
Legal reforms face an increasingly challenging path in the Missouri state legislature, which has blocked efforts to modernize the state’s expert testimony standards and adopt the standard used by a majority of states. It has also failed to address plaintiffs’ lawyers shopping for favorable courts for out-of-state cases and making sure that parties in a lawsuit do not pay more than their fair share of financial responsibility.
In recent years, the Missouri Supreme Court has also struck down several legal reforms. Included were reasonable limits on medical malpractice lawsuits to prevent doctors from practicing “defensive medicine” and safeguards to protect against runaway damages awards. The Court also widened plaintiffs’ lawyers’ ability to manufacture “bad faith” lawsuits against insurers who in good faith attempt to pay a claim.
“Improving Missouri’s litigation environment faces increasing resistance both in the state legislature and from the Missouri Supreme Court,” 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.