Survey: Illinois' Lawsuit Climate Again Ranks Among Nation's Worst

Record High 85 Percent of Business Leaders Say a State's Lawsuit Environment Impacts Location, Growth Decisions

September 12, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. — For the second time since 2015, Illinois’ lawsuit climate ranked number 48 out of 50 in a new national survey released today by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). Illinois has been in the bottom five states for the past decade.

2017 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States surveyed senior business executives on their experiences with state lawsuit environments.

This perception of Illinois’ poor litigation climate is critical—an all-time high 85 percent of survey participants said that a state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact their company’s decisions about where to locate or expand.

“Plaintiffs’ lawyers flock to Illinois to file lawsuits for people who don’t even live there, clogging the courts and gaming the system,” said ILR President Lisa A. Rickard. “If Illinois could attract companies at the same rate it is now attracting lawsuits, it could improve the state’s dismal economic outlook and create more jobs.”

Illinois received particularly low ratings for its treatment of tort and contract litigation. Illinois is also home to the worst lawsuit jurisdiction in the nation: Chicago (Cook County). Madison County, Illinois, ranked as the eighth worst.

Both Cook and Madison Counties in Illinois act as lawsuit magnets for cases both from around the state and the country. In 2015, 63 percent of Cook County’s lawsuits were filed by non-residents. Madison County’s national reputation as a plaintiff-friendly court is also backed by statistics – 28 percent of all asbestos lawsuits nationwide were filed there in 2016, and over 83 percent of them came from outside Illinois.

Harris Poll, a global polling firm, conducted the 2017 Lawsuit Climate Survey through more than 1,300 telephone and online interviews between March 31 and June 26, 2017. Participants were senior business lawyers and executives in companies with annual revenues of at least $100 million. The survey asked participants to rank the fairness of state lawsuit environments across 10 categories including their laws, courts, judges, and juries.

To promote the survey, ILR is conducting a national public awareness campaign. The national and key state online and broadcast ads can be seen here.

In tandem with the survey, ILR today released 101 Ways to Improve State Legal Systems, listing key legal reforms that states can adopt to improve their lawsuit climates.

ILR seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative, political, judicial, and educational activities at the national, state, and local levels.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.