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Chamber Grades Most State Legal Systems "C-"

Tuesday, April 8, 2003 - 8:00pm

View the Press Conference (RealOne Player) | Harris Interactive Poll (PDF - 5.5MB)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States Chamber of Commerce's second annual poll of corporate counselors and senior litigators on the fairness or reasonableness of state liability systems continues to find a majority of states deserve a grade of fair to poor.

"When abusive lawsuits rush in, new jobs stay out," said Thomas Donohue, Chamber President and CEO. "States must know that if they maintain legal systems that are unfair for companies, those companies can and will go elsewhere."

Through interviews with more than 900 corporate attorneys, the Chamber Institute for Legal Reform and Harris Interactive found an overwhelming majority of those polled (82%) said a state's litigation environment affects important decisions, such as where to locate or do business. And 65% ranked state court liability systems as only "fair" or "poor," up from 57% last year.

At the head of the class were Delaware, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and Indiana. Bringing up the bottom — those states perceived as having the worst performance — were Mississippi, West Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas. The Chamber is running full-page ads in national newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, and in select newspapers in states at the bottom of the list.

"Our ad campaign highlights the terrible price of having a legal system that falls short," Donohue added. "Yet, if state and local leaders work to improve their legal systems, they will bring great benefits to the people they serve - more jobs, more investment and more revenues to pay for schools, roads and health care."

Survey respondents — companies with annual revenues of at least $100 million — were asked to grade all 50 states based on: treatment of class action suits, punitive damages, timeliness of summary judgment/dismissal, discovery, scientific and technical evidence, judges' impartiality and competence, and juries' fairness and predictability.

The United States 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 mission of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform is to make America's legal system simpler, fairer and faster for everyone.

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