Survey: Pennsylvania's Lawsuit Climate Ranking Stuck in Nation's Bottom Tier

Philadelphia Emerging as "Mass Tort Mecca;" Attracts Out-of-State Plaintiffs

September 12, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Pennsylvania’s lawsuit climate ranked 37th out of 50 in a new national survey released today by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR).

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

Pennsylvania’s poor ranking couldn’t come at a worse time. An all-time high 85 percent of those surveyed said that a state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact their company’s decisions about where to locate or expand.

“In many ways, Pennsylvania is the birthplace of the idea of an independent civil justice system,” said ILR President Lisa A. Rickard. “But today, the state’s lawsuit climate is threatening the independence, credibility and integrity of its courts.”

In particular, Philadelphia is emerging as a “mass tort mecca,” and has a reputation for attracting out-of-state lawsuits on prescription drugs, medical devices, and other cases.

Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court majority has also shifted toward allowing more questionable lawsuits since plaintiffs’ bar-favored candidates filled three Court vacancies in 2015.

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.

Pennsylvania’s worst ratings came on its court rules, and making sure that lawsuits have a connection to where they are filed. The state is also home to one of the worst lawsuit jurisdictions nationwide—Philadelphia—which was ranked as one of the cities or counties with the worst legal environments.

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.