Delaware’s legal system ranked the best and West Virginia’s the worst in a U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey of corporate lawyers who rated less than half of U.S. state courts as “excellent” or “pretty good.”
Nebraska, Maine, Indiana and Utah were in the top-five with Delaware, which has been highest on the business lobbying group’s annual list since it began seven years ago. Rounding out the bottom five were Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Illinois.
Just 41 percent of the 957 senior corporate attorneys surveyed had positive ratings for the reasonableness and balance of state courts overall. Top reasons cited for poor grades in the report were corruption, unfair juries and judges, high awards, unpredictability and overburdened court systems.
“The ‘study’ is based on a survey of corporate defense lawyers from multimillion dollar corporations who are paid to avoid accountability for their misconduct and negligence,” Jon Haber, chief executive of the American Association for Justice, which represents trial lawyers, said in an e-mail.
The report was conducted by market-research firm Harris Interactive Inc. and released today by the Washington-based chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform. Respondents were asked to grade states based on the quality of judges, damage awards, how quickly trials are conducted and the predictability of juries.
“We’ve been telling state policymakers for seven years now that they need to improve their state’s lawsuit system in order to attract new business and grow jobs,” Thomas Donohue, president of the chamber, said in a release. “But some states are learning that changing the law isn’t enough — they also need to make sure their courts correctly apply the law.”
The American Association for Justice called the chamber survey “part of an extreme corporate agenda to destroy the civil justice system.”