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September 10, 2012

Survey Ranks West Virginia’s Lawsuit Climate as Nation’s Worst for Fifth Consecutive Time

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new national survey released today by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) finds that West Virginia’s lawsuit climate is the worst in the country.  The survey awards West Virginia this dubious distinction for the fifth consecutive time, and the state has never ranked higher than 49th since the study’s inception in 2002.

The significance of a state’s legal climate on business expansion decisions has steadily increased over the last five years. Seven out of ten respondents say a state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their company, such as where to locate or expand their businesses, a 13 percent increase from the survey results just five years ago.

“As our economic downturn has continued, a growing percentage of business leaders have identified a state’s lawsuit climate as a significant factor in determining their growth and expansion plans, and the jobs that come along with them,” said Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. “That makes the consequences of this survey even more significant to the economic growth of West Virginia.”

According to the study Creating Conditions for Economic Growth: The Role of the Legal Environment, completed by NERA Economic Consulting for ILR in 2011, West Virginia could save up to $320 million in tort costs if it were to improve its legal environment.  

“West Virginia continues to suffer from outrageous verdicts, lack of meaningful appellate review, an overzealous attorney general’s office, antiquated laws, and frivolous lawsuits,” said Rickard.

Harris Interactive conducted the survey Lawsuit Climate 2012: Ranking the States by telephone and online between March and June 2012. The respondents—general counsels and senior attorneys or leaders in companies with annual revenues of at least $100 million—were asked to rank states for their overall treatment of tort, contract, and class action litigation. Among other elements, respondents also ranked states for the impartiality and competence of their judges and the fairness of their juries.

See the entire 50-state list and read a full copy of Lawsuit Climate 2012: Ranking the States online at: www.instituteforlegalreform.com/states

For all media information, video clips and press releases on the Lawsuit Climate 2012: Ranking the States survey, go to: www.instituteforlegalreform.com/media

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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