Survey: California’s lawsuit climate ranks among worst in country, again

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Date: September 10, 2015
Contact: Kim Stone, President
(916) 443-4900 (Office) · 916-798-1878 (Cell) – kstone@cjac.org

SACRAMENTO – California’s lawsuit environment again places among the worst in the country with a rank of 47 out 50 states, tying its all-time low ranking recorded in 2012, according to a recently released Harris Poll by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). The survey also names Los Angeles and San Francisco among the “least fair” jurisdictions in the nation.

In the survey, 2015 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States, general counsels or senior attorneys at major companies rank their perceptions of state lawsuit environments, including laws, courts, judges and juries. States were also ranked for their overall treatment of tort, contract, and class action litigation. The survey and 50 state list can be viewed here.

The survey identifies California as “ground zero for lawsuit abuse in several areas.” Cases such as ADA and Prop 65 shakedown lawsuits and food labeling class action lawsuits, among other factors such as the state’s high business and regulatory costs and high taxes, are creating an environment that makes it even more difficult to attract new businesses to California.

“More business leaders than ever have identified a state’s lawsuit climate as a significant factor in determining their growth and expansion plans,” said Lisa A. Rickard, president of ILR. “California ought to take notice that the results of this survey are of vital significance to continue attracting good jobs.”

“The ILR/Harris Poll puts California at the very bottom for class action lawsuits and for damage awards. I can’t say I’m surprised,” Kim Stone, President of the Civil Justice Association of California said. “Our state has a ‘sue me’ sign on its back. Most of our tort laws, but particularly our class action rules, heavily favor plaintiffs.”

In a similar report, California has been ranked by the American Tort Reform Foundation as the #1 Judicial Hellhole in 2013 and 2014. California would have been #1 again this year but fell second to New York City due to its biased treatment of asbestos cases. That report can be viewed here. (http://www.judicialhellholes.org/2014-2015/executive-summary/)
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The Civil Justice Association of California is a non-profit, membership supported coalition of citizens, taxpayers, businesses, local governments, professionals, manufacturers, financial institutions, insurers, and medical organizations. Founded in 1979, CJAC is the only statewide association dedicated solely to improving California’s civil liability system. It is active in both the Legislature and the courts, working to reduce the excessive and unwarranted litigation that increases business and government expenses, discourages innovation, and drives up the costs of goods and services for all consumers. For more information, visit www.cjac.org.

  • What are the details of the survey? What were the questions asked? Who responded?

  • Eric Andrist

    Why is this necessarily a bad thing? You can put anything in a list and make it seem bad. We have a right in this country to take someone to court. We also have protections in place that sanction people and lawyers for bringing frivolous lawsuits.

    What we should be concerned about is that in California, and many other states, we have laws like MICRA which prevent victims of medical negligence from going to court. That law has been on the books since 1975 and limits pain and suffering damages to $250,000. MANY victims have no economic damages and that’s the only thing they can sue for, thereby making it so that lawyers cannot afford to take their cases. The amount has never been raised to match inflation. Today that amount is worth only about $56,000.

    I think we should be concerned about lists compiled by business owners that try and take away our right to our court system. Doctors falsely complained in 1975 and we ended up with MICRA for the last 40 years, preventing most victims from ever getting to court.

    Going to court is our right. We should be focusing on why so many businesses need to be sued in the first place, not the punish the people who have been harmed by them!