September 12, 2017

Survey: California’s Lawsuit Climate Again Ranks Among Nation’s Worst

WASHINGTON, D.C. — For the third time since 2012, California’s lawsuit climate ranked number 47 out of 50 in a new national survey released today by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). California has been in the bottom 10 states since the survey began in 2002.

2017 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States surveyed senior business executives on their experiences with state lawsuit environments.

This perception of California’s poor litigation climate is critical—an all-time high 85 percent of survey participants said that a state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact their company’s decisions about where to locate or expand.

“California’s lawsuit climate is stuck in the mud,” said ILR President Lisa A. Rickard. “California is a magnet for abusive lawyer-driven litigation, but rather than consider any reforms, the state legislature is laying down the welcome mat for even more lawsuits.”

California is known as a hotbed for class action lawsuits, which likely contributed to its rank. In particular, 36 percent of the nation’s food class action lawsuits are filed in California based on state laws. As a result, the Northern District of California has become known as the country’s “food court.”

California ranked dead last for its overall treatment of tort and contract litigation, 49th for the quality of its appeals process and 48th for its treatment of class action lawsuits and the fairness of its juries. California is also home to one of the worst lawsuit jurisdictions in the nation: Los Angeles, which ranked second among the cities or counties with the worst legal environments.

Additionally, 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 reducing services statewide. This has clogged the courts, and the state Supreme Court’s Chief Justice has estimated it has deprived more than two million Californians of accessible justice.

Harris Poll, a global polling firm, conducted the 2017 Lawsuit Climate Survey through more than 1,300 telephone and online interviews between March 31 and June 26, 2017. Participants were senior business lawyers and executives in companies with annual revenues of at least $100 million. The survey asked participants to rank the fairness of state lawsuit environments across 10 categories including their laws, courts, judges, and juries.

To promote the survey, ILR is conducting a national public awareness campaign. The national and key state online and broadcast ads can be seen here.

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 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.

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