WASHINGTON (March 9)—Delaware is the fairest and most reasonable of all 50 states in its tort and contract litigation statutes, and Mississippi the most draconian, according to a state liability rankings study issued by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The survey of 1,402 senior corporate attorneys ranked Nebraska, Virginia, Iowa and Idaho next after Delaware for "doing the best job of creating a fair and reasonable litigation environment," while West Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana and California were the next worst after Mississippi. The study stressed that individual cities or counties can greatly affect a state's litigation ranking; for example, Madison County, Ill.—labeled a "judicial hellhole" by the American Tort Reform Association—single-handedly dragged Illinois down to 44th in the Chamber's rankings.
The study is useful in pointing out the disparity between states in their legal fairness toward business, according to a spokesman for the Rubber Manufacturers Association. "I don't know what rubber companies might decide to do, but there are certainly a number of states that need a great deal of work in making themselves attractive to business," the spokesman said. Of the attorneys interviewed in the survey, 80 percent said the litigation environment in a state could affect a company's decision whether to locate or do business there.