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News
March 26, 2006

Wisconsin Legal System Headed in the Wrong Direction

MADISON, WI – The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) today announced that Wisconsin’s legal climate has dropped six spots to number 23 in the 2006 Harris State Liability Systems Ranking Study, and has plummeted an alarming 13 spots in just two years.

“Wisconsin’s legal system is headed in the wrong direction,” said Tom Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “The state supreme court has made several bad rulings in the last year which have been devastating to business, including one that allows lawsuits against entire industries when a plaintiff can’t prove which company’s product allegedly injured them.”

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 Wisconsin is nearly $5 billion.

“The best thing Wisconsin can do to attract business is to have a fair legal system,” said 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 legislature has worked hard to set the state back on the right path, but the governor’s lack of leadership on key legal reform issues has dealt a major blow to Wisconsin’s business climate,” Donohue added. “The voters of Wisconsin should demand that their elected officials reverse this dangerous trend.”

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 Wisconsin, ILR will run print, radio and billboard ads featuring the message “Wrong Way.”

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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