Two recent reports document the American bane of over-litigiousness and capricious legal systems.
First, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Research, "State Lawsuit Climates," based on a survey of 1.125 in-house counsel and other company attorneys, the men and women who deal every day with a venue's legal fairness and burdens on business and the economy.
Approximately half of all senior attorneys (49%) 2 view the fairness and reasonableness of state court liability systems in America as excellent or pretty good, up from 44% in the 2010 survey. The remaining 51% view the systems as only fair or poor, or declined to answer (1%). The impact of a state’s litigation environment has always been and continues to be important, with more than two-thirds (70%) reporting that it is likely to impact important business decisions at their companies, such as where to locate or do business. This is an increase from 67% in 2010 and 63% in 2008.
Along with ranking the states for their legal climate, ILR also sought input on the worst jurisdictions:
In order to understand if there are any cities or counties that might impact a state’s ranking, respondents were asked which five cities or counties have the least fair and reasonable litigation environments. The worst jurisdiction was Chicago/Cook County, Illinois (17%), followed by Los Angeles, California (16%), the state of California in general (9%), San Francisco, California (9%), and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (8%).
To understand why respondents feel negatively about particular jurisdictions, a follow-up question was asked to those who cited a jurisdiction. A third (33%) of respondents mentioned that the reason why a city or county has the least fair and reasonable litigation environment is because of biased or partial juries/ judges. Similar to 2010, this is the number one reason by a large margin. The next tier includes corrupt/unfair system (9%), a slow process (9%), anti-business/anti-corporate environment (8%), unreasonable rulings/verdicts (6%), incompetent juries/judges (5%), and excessive damages awards (5%).
Business counsel recognize the costs and burdens imposed by frivolous lawsuits, excessive damages, and a capricious legal system. According to a recent (pre-political conventions) poll released by the American Tort Reform Association and the Sick of Lawsuits campaign, so does the public. From, "National Poll: Voters Say Litigation is Hurting Economy, They’re More Likely to Support Pro-Tort Reform Candidates":
“Lawsuit reform isn’t a partisan issue, it’s an economic issue,” observed ATRA president Tiger Joyce. “When 89 percent of Americans say lawsuit abuse is a problem, candidates and elected officials should pay attention. Whether it’s large companies facing preposterous consumer class actions or small businesses threatened by slip-and-fall racketeers, lawsuit abuse erodes the nation’s economic prospects and drives American jobs overseas.”
“America’s primary focus should be on creating jobs, not lawsuits,” added Tom Scott, a California-based spokesman for Sick of Lawsuits. “We hear from small business owners every day about their fear of costly lawsuits and the negative impact that expanding liability has on their bottom line and capacity to hire additional employees. People understand that, and they want their elected officials to do something about it.”
According to the national survey conducted in July, 78 percent of registered voters also say the “nation suffers from too many lawsuits”.
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