John O'Brien Sep. 10, 2015, 9:05am


WASHINGTON, D.C. – According to a recent survey, corporate attorneys rank Pennsylvania’s court system 37th in fairness, though Philadelphia is cited as one of the worst local jurisdictions.

Pennsylvania ranks above bottom-of-the-list mainstays like West Virginia and Louisiana in the 10th release of a lawsuit climate survey performed by the Harris Poll for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.

According to more than 1,200 corporate attorneys surveyed, Delaware’s legal system is the fairest, followed by Vermont, Nebraska, Iowa and New Hampshire.

Pennsylvania’s ranking is up from 40th in the previous edition of the survey.

However, Philadelphia was named by seven percent those surveyed when it came to identifying the worst local jurisdiction.

“More business leaders than ever have identified a state’s lawsuit climate as a significant factor in determining their growth and expansion plans,” ILR President Lisa A. Rickard said in a statement.

“States ought to take notice that a good lawsuit climate is vital to their continued job growth.”

The ILR owns the Pennsylvania Record.

Participants in the survey were comprised of a national sample of 1,203 in-house general counsel, senior litigators or attorneys, and other senior executives at companies with at least $100 million in annual revenues who indicated they: (1) are knowledgeable about litigation matters; and (2) have recent litigation experience in each state they evaluate.

The respondents were asked to evaluate the state as a whole, so it is possible that some states received low grades due to the negative reputation of one or more of their counties or jurisdiction, the survey noted.

However, this year’s survey shows that attorneys see the litigation environment improving generally: 50 percent of the respondents viewed the fairness and reasonableness of state court liability systems in the U.S. as “excellent” or “pretty good,” up from 49 percent in 2012 and 44 percent in 2010.

Still, three-quarters, or 75 percent, of the respondents said a state’s litigation environment is key and is likely to impact “important” business decisions at their companies, such as where to locate or do business.

That number is a significant increase from 70 percent in 2012 and 67 percent in 2010.

For determining the worst local jurisdictions, those surveyed were asked, “Thinking about the entire country, which of the following do you think are the worst city or county courts? That is, which city or county courts have the least fair and reasonable litigation environment for both defendants and plaintiffs?”

Those surveyed were asked to provide two responses. East Texas led the way with 26 percent, while Cook County/Chicago had 20 percent.

In between those two and Philadelphia were Los Angeles; Madison County, Ill.; New Orleans/Orleans Parish; New York City; San Francisco; and Miami/Dade County.

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach editor John O’Brien at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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