Canadian Underwriter

U.S. Chamber survey identifies worst states for tort

March 12, 2004   by Canadian Underwriter

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Mississippi has again taken on the dubious honor of being the worst state in which to defend a liability case, says the annual “State Liability Systems Ranking Study” released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce “institute for legal reform”.
West Virginia finished as the second-worst state, while Delaware ranked as the best in terms of fairness. The survey gauges the opinions of more than 1,400 senior attorneys on the legal fairness of states.
“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 show a willingness to dole out huge awards in frivolous cases,” says Thomas Donohue, president and CEO of the Chamber. He uses the example Madison County, Illinois, a region so notorious for its plaintiff bias that is has dragged the state into the worst ranks on the tort list.
The aim of the survey is to encourage states to enact legislation to make their systems more fair by publicizing their status and pointing out businesses may not want to locate in states where legal environment is perceived as biased against defendants.
As well, the Chamber is pushing for federal legislation to rein in tort. “This is a comprehensive problem that needs comprehensive solutions,” says Donohue. “We need federal legislative reforms for class actions, asbestos litigation and medical malpractice.”

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