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March 7, 2005

U.S. Chamber Annual Survey Bolsters Need for Legal Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) today released its Harris Interactive 2005 State Liability Systems Rankings Study and launched a national advertising campaign to highlight the results and promote federal and state-based legal reform.

“The legal system in some states is badly broken and needs to be fixed,” said Thomas J. Donohue, Chamber President and CEO. “We won’t rest until we restore basic fairness to the courts by eliminating the unfair home field advantage enjoyed by certain plaintiffs’ attorneys.”

Illinois, home of Madison County, one of the worst jackpot jurisdictions in the country, continued its steady decline, dropping two places in this year’s study to 46. West Virginia once again ranked 49. Florida dropped four places in this year’s survey to 42, falling nine places since 2002. For the fourth consecutive year, Delaware was ranked as the most balanced legal system.

Although Mississippi ranked 50 in this year’s study, 96 percent of respondents who were familiar with the state’s comprehensive legal reform legislation enacted last year expect a major or moderate improvement in the state’s litigation environment.

“Employers are drawn to states with a fair and balanced legal system,” continued Donohue. “We applaud states like Mississippi and Texas that have done the right thing, and we call upon Illinois, West Virginia and Florida to pass reforms to their state’s legal system and attract business investment.”

The ILR/Harris Interactive survey of more than 1,400 senior corporate attorneys, now in its fourth year, is the preeminent standard by which companies, policymakers and the media judge the legal fairness of states.

The mission of the Institute for Legal Reform is to make America’s legal system simpler, fairer and faster for everyone. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation, representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.

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