April 23, 2008

California Comes in 44th Place in Survey on Lawsuit Climate

The 2008 State Liability Systems Ranking Study was conducted for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform among a national sample of in-house general counsel or other senior corporate litigators to explore how reasonable and balanced the tort liability system is perceived to be by U.S. business. According to the nationwide survey, California came in 44th, making it the 7th worst state in the nation. Los Angeles county was judged the worst county in the nation. The best five states were Delaware, Nebraska, Maine, Indiana, and Utah. The five worst states were Illinois, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and West Virginia. A significant factor in California's poor performance in the survey was the perception that California courts were too permissive with awarding punitive damages.

The full printable .pdf version of the survey is available here.

UPDATE (by Curt Cutting): The trial lawyers of West Virginia are taking umbrage with their state's last place ranking. According to this article from the West Virginia Record, the West Virginia Association for Justice calls the survey: "propaganda created to dupe West Virginia lawmakers into destroying important consumer protection laws." The president of West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse responds by pointing out that West Virginia has also received dismal ratings from Forbes, the American Tort Reform Association, Directorship Magazine, and the Pacific Research Institute.

FURTHER UPDATE (by Jeremy Rosen): The American Association for Justice, formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, issued its own press release Tuesday, calling the report's rankings "phony" and saying its purpose is to serve the extreme corporate agenda.