U.S. Chamber Announces State Legal Fairness Rankings

March 10, 2004

The United States Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform’s annual State Liability Systems Ranking Study found a wide gap between the best and worst states in legal fairness – a difference that underscores the need for both federal and state-based legal reform.

“Opportunistic trial lawyers are flocking to courts in a handful of
out-of-the-way places that are stacked in favor of plaintiffs’ attorneys
and that have shown a willingness to dole out huge awards in frivolous cases,” said Thomas Donohue, U.S. Chamber President and CEO. “Madison County, Illinois is perhaps the worst offender – that’s probably why Illinois has dropped ten spots to number 44 in the last two years.”

The Institute for Legal Reform, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber, also is launching a national advertising campaign highlighting the results of the study and the need for comprehensive legal reform. For the third year in a row, Mississippi is ranked 50th and West Virginia is 49th. Delaware is ranked number one.

States with the best-rated legal systems enjoy an advantage over the lower-ranked states in attracting investment. “Businesses go where they are wanted and they brings jobs and economic growth to the states with the best legal systems,” said Donohue.

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

“This is a comprehensive problem that needs comprehensive solutions,” Donohue continued. “We need federal legislative reforms for class actions, asbestos litigation and medical malpractice. And we need states like Mississippi, West Virginia and Illinois to enact legislation that will restore fairness and balance to their civil litigation systems.”

The mission of the Institute for Legal Reform 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 three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.

The study and print ads are available online at: www.legalreformnow.com.

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