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March 26, 2006

U.S. Chamber: California’s Legal Fairness Ranking Improves, But Remains One of the Worst in the Country

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) today announced that California moved up one spot to number 44 in the 2006 Harris State Liability Systems Ranking Study, but its legal climate remains one of the worst in the country. In addition, Los Angeles was named the least fair and reasonable litigation environment in the country.

“California’s low ranking is not surprising, given the fact that jury awards in tort cases have skyrocketed almost 150 percent in recent years and that California is a haven for employment-related class action lawsuits,” said Tom Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “The legislature in Sacramento must pass meaningful legal reform before California’s legal fairness ranking will show significant improvement.”

A recent actuarial study estimated the annual cost of the tort system in America to be $260 billion, or $886 per citizen. Following those estimates, the price tag of tort litigation for the entire population of California is nearly $32 billion.

“California has made progress in improving its business and jobs climate, but without a fair and reasonable legal system, that progress can easily be thrown off track,” continued Donohue. “An unfair legal system sucks the life out of a state’s economy. It affects business expansion, it affects jobs and it takes money out of consumers’ pockets.”

The ILR/Harris Interactive survey of more than 1,400 senior attorneys, now in its fifth year, is the preeminent standard by which companies, policymakers and the media measure the legal fairness of states. In 2006, West Virginia ranked last among the fifty states and, for the fifth year in a row, Delaware is ranked number one.

To highlight the results of the study and the need for comprehensive legal reform, ILR is launching a national advertising campaign. In California, ILR will run print ads featuring the message “Please Don’t Feed the Trial Lawyers.”

ILR’s mission is to make America’s legal system simpler, fairer, and faster for everyone. It 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 more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.

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The ILR ranking survey is available online at www.instituteforlegalreform.org

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