States

ILR's Ranking the States report explores how reasonable and balanced the states’ tort liability systems are perceived to be by U.S. businesses. Explore the rankings below and click through to view more detailed information about specific states.

  • LEGEND BY RANKINGS
  • 1-10
  • 11-20
  • 21-30
  • 31-40
  • 41-50

CHOOSE A YEAR

  • nh
  • vt
  • ma
  • ri
  • ct
  • nj
  • de
  • md
  • nh
  • vt
  • ma
  • ri
  • ct
  • nj
  • de
  • md
  • nh
  • vt
  • ma
  • ri
  • ct
  • nj
  • de
  • md
Mouse Over the Map Above to Explore State by State

Alaska

2015

#12

2012

#13

2010

#33

Alabama

2015

#46

2012

#43

2010

#47

Arkansas

2015

#41

2012

#35

2010

#44

Arizona

2015

#25

2012

#17

2010

#13

California

2015

#47

2012

#47

2010

#46

Colorado

2015

#16

2012

#23

2010

#8

Connecticut

2015

#22

2012

#25

2010

#24

Delaware

2015

#1

2012

#1

2010

#1

Florida

2015

#44

2012

#41

2010

#42

Georgia

2015

#31

2012

#24

2010

#27

Hawaii

2015

#30

2012

#29

2010

#35

Iowa

2015

#4

2012

#10

2010

#5

Idaho

2015

#6

2012

#6

2010

#18

Illinois

2015

#48

2012

#46

2010

#45

Indiana

2015

#18

2012

#14

2010

#4

Kansas

2015

#19

2012

#5

2010

#14

Kentucky

2015

#39

2012

#38

2010

#40

Louisiana

2015

#49

2012

#49

2010

#49

Massachusetts

2015

#17

2012

#19

2010

#9

Maryland

2015

#28

2012

#33

2010

#20

Maine

2015

#14

2012

#12

2010

#12

Michigan

2015

#24

2012

#27

2010

#30

Minnesota

2015

#13

2012

#4

2010

#11

Missouri

2015

#42

2012

#34

2010

#37

Mississippi

2015

#43

2012

#48

2010

#48

Montana

2015

#34

2012

#45

2010

#43

North Carolina

2015

#7

2012

#20

2010

#17

North Dakota

2015

#15

2012

#8

2010

#2

Nebraska

2015

#3

2012

#2

2010

#3

New Hampshire

2015

#5

2012

#21

2010

#16

New Jersey

2015

#38

2012

#32

2010

#32

New Mexico

2015

#45

2012

#44

2010

#41

Nevada

2015

#35

2012

#37

2010

#28

New York

2015

#21

2012

#18

2010

#23

Ohio

2015

#27

2012

#30

2010

#29

Oklahoma

2015

#33

2012

#42

2010

#31

Oregon

2015

#32

2012

#28

2010

#21

Pennsylvania

2015

#37

2012

#40

2010

#34

Rhode Island

2015

#26

2012

#31

2010

#38

South Carolina

2015

#36

2012

#39

2010

#39

South Dakota

2015

#9

2012

#11

2010

#10

Tennessee

2015

#23

2012

#26

2010

#19

Texas

2015

#40

2012

#36

2010

#36

Utah

2015

#10

2012

#9

2010

#7

Virginia

2015

#11

2012

#7

2010

#6

Vermont

2015

#2

2012

#16

2010

#25

Washington

2015

#29

2012

#22

2010

#26

Wisconsin

2015

#20

2012

#15

2010

#22

West Virginia

2015

#50

2012

#50

2010

#50

Wyoming

2015

#8

2012

#3

2010

#15

1-10
1. Delaware
2. Vermont
3. Nebraska
4. Iowa
5. New Hampshire
6. Idaho
7. North Carolina
8. Wyoming
9. South Dakota
10. Utah
11-20
11. Virginia
12. Alaska
13. Minnesota
14. Maine
15. North Dakota
16. Colorado
17. Massachusetts
18. Indiana
19. Kansas
20. Wisconsin
21-30
21. New York
22. Connecticut
23. Tennessee
24. Michigan
25. Arizona
26. Rhode Island
27. Ohio
28. Maryland
29. Washington
30. Hawaii
31-40
31. Georgia
32. Oregon
33. Oklahoma
34. Montana
35. Nevada
36. South Carolina
37. Pennsylvania
38. New Jersey
39. Kentucky
40. Texas
41-50
41. Arkansas
42. Missouri
43. Mississippi
44. Florida
45. New Mexico
46. Alabama
47. California
48. Illinois
49. Louisiana
50. West Virginia
 

Report Highlights

The 2015 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States was conducted for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform to explore how fair and reasonable the states’ tort liability systems are perceived to be by U.S. businesses. These perceptions matter because they can be influential in business decisions about where to conduct/expand/constrict business operations or sales. Three quarters of the respondents in this survey (75%) report that a state’s litigation environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their companies such as where to locate or to do business. This is a significant increase from 70% in 2012 and 67% in 2010.

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 who indicated they are: knowledgeable about litigation matters at companies with at least $100 million in annual revenues, and have recent (within the past four years) litigation experience in each state.

The 2015 ranking builds on previous years’ work where in nine prior surveys (beginning in 2002) all 50 states were ranked by those familiar with the litigation environment in that state. Prior to these rankings, information regarding the attitudes of the business world toward the legal systems in each of the states had been largely anecdotal.

Respondents were first screened for their familiarity with states, and those who were very or somewhat familiar with the litigation environment in a given state, were then asked to evaluate that state. It is important to remember that courts and localities within a state may vary a great deal in fairness and reasonableness. However, respondents had to evaluate the state as a whole. To explore the detailed nuances within each state was beyond the scope and purpose of this study. Other studies have demonstrated variability within a state. For example, several studies have documented very high litigation activity in certain county courts such as Madison County, Illinois, and Jefferson County, Texas, revealing that these counties have “magnet courts” that are extremely hospitable to plaintiffs. Thus, it is possible that some states received low grades due to the performance of one or two of their counties or jurisdictions. Of course, state evaluations could also have been raised by city or county court systems that perform very well.

The survey focuses on perceptions of the state liability system by asking respondents to grade the following elements:

    • Overall treatment of tort and contract litigation
    • Having and enforcing meaningful venue requirements
    • Treatment of class action suits and mass consolidation suits
    • Damages
    • Timeliness of summary judgement or dismissal
    • Discovery
    • Scientific and technical evidence
    • Judges’ impartiality
    • Judges’ competence
    • Juries’ fairness

Respondents assigned grades of A, B, C, D or F to each of these elements, and to their overall perception of these elements combined, and the rankings were developed from these grades.

2015 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States – National

 
Executive Summary Download PDF
Full Report with Questionnaire Download PDF
 

Archives

2012 | 2010 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002
 
2015 State Liability Systems Ranking Study

Overall Rankings of State Liability Systems
2010 - 2015

Scores displayed in this table have been rounded to one decimal point. However, when developing the ranking, scores were evaluated based on two decimal points. Therefore, states that appear tied based upon the scores in this table were not tied when two decimal points were taken into consideration.

STATE '15 SCORE 2015 2012 2010
Delaware 76.5 1 1 1
Vermont 73.8 2 16 25
Nebraska 73.0 3 2 3
Iowa 72.2 4 10 5
New Hampshire 70.7 5 21 16
Idaho 70.5 6 6 18
North Carolina 70.2 7 20 17
Wyoming 69.7 8 3 15
South Dakota 69.5 9 11 10
Utah 69.0 10 9 7
Virginia 68.3 11 7 6
Alaska 68.1 12 13 33
Minnesota 68.0 13 4 11
Maine 68.0 14 12 12
North Dakota 67.9 15 8 2
Colorado 67.8 16 23 8
Massachusetts 67.8 17 19 9
Indiana 67.7 18 14 4
Kansas 67.6 19 5 14
Wisconsin 66.6 20 15 22
New York 66.3 21 18 23
Connecticut 65.9 22 25 24
Tennessee 65.7 23 26 19
Michigan 65.5 24 27 30
Arizona 65.4 25 17 13
Rhode Island 64.6 26 31 38
Ohio 64.2 27 30 29
Maryland 63.9 28 33 20
Washington 63.8 29 22 26
Hawaii 62.8 30 29 35
Georgia 62.4 31 24 27
Oregon 61.2 32 28 21
Oklahoma 61.0 33 42 31
Montana 60.5 34 45 43
Nevada 60.4 35 37 28
South Carolina 59.4 36 39 39
Pennsylvania 59.4 37 40 34
New Jersey 59.3 38 32 32
Kentucky 59.0 39 38 40
Texas 58.5 40 36 36
Arkansas 57.7 41 35 44
Missouri 56.6 42 34 37
Mississippi 56.3 43 48 48
Florida 56.0 44 41 42
New Mexico 55.2 45 44 41
Alabama 55.1 46 43 47
California 49.9 47 47 46
Illinois 48.0 48 46 45
Louisiana 46.5 49 49 49
West Virginia 46.3 50 50 50

Overall Rating of State Court Liability Systems Over Time

Summary of Top/Bottom 5 States by Key Elements

Overall treatment of tort and contract litigation

  • BEST
  • 1. Delaware
  • 2. Vermont
  • 3. Nebraska
  • 4. South Dakota
  • 5. North Carolina
  • WORST
  • 50. West Virginia
  • 49. Louisiana
  • 48. Illinois
  • 47. California
  • 46. New Mexico

Having and enforcing meaningful venue requirements

  • BEST
  • 1. Delaware
  • 2. Nebraska
  • 3. New York
  • 4. Vermont
  • 5. Minnesota
  • WORST
  • 50. Illinois
  • 49. West Virginia
  • 48. Louisiana
  • 47. California
  • 46. New Mexico

Treatment of class action suits and mass consolidation suits

  • BEST
  • 1. Delaware
  • 2. Vermont
  • 3. Idaho
  • 4. Nebraska
  • 5. Wyoming
  • WORST
  • 50. California
  • 49. Illinois
  • 48. Louisiana
  • 47. West Virginia
  • 46. Missouri

Damages

  • BEST
  • 1. Delaware
  • 2. Kansas
  • 3. Vermont
  • 4. South Dakota
  • 5. Iowa
  • WORST
  • 50. California
  • 49. Louisiana
  • 48. Illinois
  • 47. West Virginia
  • 46. Alabama

Timeliness of summary judgment or dismissal

  • BEST
  • 1. Delaware
  • 2. Vermont
  • 3. Nebraska
  • 4. Idaho
  • 5. Wyoming
  • WORST
  • 50. Louisiana
  • 49. West Virginia
  • 48. California
  • 47. Illinois
  • 46. Alabama

Discovery

  • BEST
  • 1. Vermont
  • 2. Delaware
  • 3. Nebraska
  • 4. New Hampshire
  • 5. Iowa
  • WORST
  • 50. West Virginia
  • 49. California
  • 48. Illinois
  • 47. Louisiana
  • 46. New Mexico

Scientific and technical evidence

  • BEST
  • 1. Vermont
  • 2. Delaware
  • 3. Massachusetts
  • 4. New York
  • 5. Iowa
  • WORST
  • 50. West Virginia
  • 49. Louisiana
  • 48. Illinois
  • 47. Alabama
  • 46. Arkansas

Judges' impartiality

  • BEST
  • 1. Vermont
  • 2. Delaware
  • 3. Iowa
  • 4. Nebraska
  • 5. New Hampshire
  • WORST
  • 50. Louisiana
  • 49. West Virginia
  • 48. Illinois
  • 47. New Mexico
  • 46. Texas

Judges' competence

  • BEST
  • 1. Delaware
  • 2. Massachusetts
  • 3. Maine
  • 4. Wyoming
  • 5. Iowa
  • WORST
  • 50. Louisiana
  • 49. West Virginia
  • 48. Illinois
  • 47. New Mexico
  • 46. California

Juries' fairness

  • BEST
  • 1. Nebraska
  • 2. Delaware
  • 3. New Hampshire
  • 4. Iowa
  • 5. Vermont
  • WORST
  • 50. Louisiana
  • 49. California
  • 48. Illinois
  • 47. West Virginia
  • 46. Alabama

Most Important Issues for Improving the Litigation Environment

Eliminating unnecessary lawsuits 32%
Placing reasonable limits on discovery 15%
Limiting punitive or other types of damages 11%
Increasing the effectiveness of judicial case management 11%
Ensuring timely court decisions 9%
Assuring that liability is properly allocated among defendants 9%
Addressing e-discovery 6%
32%
 






*Note: Results are given for a base of 1,203 general counsel/senior litigators who were asked, “Which of the following do you think is the single most important improvement that should be made in a litigation environment?”

Respondents were provided with this closed end list of items to evaluate. Additional responses volunteered by respondents at “Other” were all below 1%.


Cities or Counties with the Least Fair and Reasonable Litigation Environment*

East Texas 26%
Chicago or Cook County, Illinois 20%
Los Angeles, California 16%
Madison County, Illinois 16%
New Orleans or Orleans Parish, Louisiana 15%
New York, New York 10%
San Francisco, California 10%
Miami or Dade County, Florida 10%
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 7%
St. Louis, Missouri 7%
Detroit, Michigan 7%
Washington, DC 5%
 






*Note: Results are given for a base of 1,203 general counsel/senior litigators who 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?”

Respondents were asked to provide up to two responses to this closed end list of city and county courts. Other mentions volunteered by respondents at “Other” in the list were all below 1%.

The 2015 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States was conducted for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform by Harris Poll. The final results are based on interviews with a national sample of 1,203 in-house general counsel, senior litigators or attorneys, and other senior executives who are knowledgeable about litigation matters at public and private companies with annual revenues of at least $100 million. The general counsel, senior litigators or attorneys, and other senior executives included in this study were involved in or very familiar with litigation in the states they evaluated within the last four years. On average, each telephone respondent evaluated four states, and each online respondent evaluated five states1. As a result, these 1,203 individual respondents represent a total of 5,346 responses or state evaluations.

Phone interviews averaging 26 minutes in length were conducted with a total of 560 respondents and took place between March 9, 2015, and June 24, 2015. Online interviews using the same questionnaire and averaging 14 minutes in length were conducted with a total of 643 respondents and took place between March 12, 2015, and June 24, 2015. As a point of reference, the 2012 research was conducted between March 13, 2012, and June 25, 2012. The remaining prior years’ research was conducted during October to January in the years 2002-2010.

SAMPLE DESIGN

For the telephone sample, a comprehensive list of general counsel at companies with annual revenues of at least $100 million was compiled using Hoovers Phone, InfoUSA, ALM Legal Intelligence and Leadership Directories. An alert letter was sent to the general counsel at each company. This letter provided general information about the study and notified the recipient of the option to take the survey online or by phone. It told them that an interviewer from Harris Poll would be contacting them to set up an appointment for a telephone interview if that was their preference. The letter included a toll-free number for respondents to call and schedule an appointment for a telephone interview. It also alerted the general counsel to a $100 incentive in the form of a gift card or charitable donation given in appreciation of the time invested in taking the survey.

For the online sample, the e-mail addresses for a representative sample of general counsel and other senior attorneys were drawn from Hoovers ConnectMail, ALM Law Journal, Today’s General Counsel, National Data Group, InfoUSA, ALM Legal Intelligence and Leadership Directories. Respondents received an electronic version of the alert letter, which included a password-protected link to take the survey. Once they accessed the survey online, all respondents were screened to ensure that they worked for companies with more than $100 million in annual revenues.

SAMPLE CHARACTERISTICS

A vast majority (73%) of respondents were general counsel, corporate counsel, associate or assistant counsel, or some other senior litigator or attorney. The remaining respondents were senior executives knowledgeable about or responsible for litigation at their companies. Respondents had an average of 19 years of relevant legal experience, including in their current position, and had been involved in or familiar with litigation at their current companies for an average of 10 years. All respondents were familiar with or had litigated in the states they rated within the past four years; 78% fell within the past three years. The most common industry sector represented was manufacturing, followed by services and finance.

TELEPHONE INTERVIEWING PROCEDURES

The telephone interviews utilized a computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) system, whereby trained interviewers call and immediately input responses into the computer. This system greatly enhances reporting reliability. It also reduces clerical error by eliminating the need for keypunching, since interviewers enter respondent answers directly into a computer terminal during the interview itself. This data entry program does not permit interviewers to inadvertently skip questions, as each question must be answered before the computer moves on to the next question. The data entry program also ensures that all skip patterns are correctly followed. Furthermore, the online data editing system refuses to accept punches that are out-of-range, demands confirmation of responses that exceed expected ranges, and asks for explanations for inconsistencies between certain key responses.  

To achieve high participation, in addition to the alert letters, numerous telephone callbacks were made to reach respondents and conduct the interviews at a convenient time. Interviewers also offered to send respondents an e-mail invitation so that respondents could take the survey online on their own time.

ONLINE INTERVIEWING PROCEDURES

All online interviews were hosted on Harris Poll’s server and were conducted using a self-administered, online questionnaire via proprietary Web-assisted interviewing software. The mail version of the alert letter directed respondents to a URL and provided participants with a unique ID and password that they were required to enter on the landing page of the survey. Those who received an e-mail version of the alert letter accessed the survey by clicking on the password-protected URL included in the e-mail. Due to password protection, it was not possible for a respondent to answer the survey more than once. Respondents for whom we had e-mail addresses received an initial invitation as well as reminder e-mails.

INTERVIEWING PROTOCOL

After determining that respondents were qualified to participate in the survey using a series of screening questions, respondents identified the state liability systems with which they were familiar. The respondents were then asked to identify the last time they litigated in or were familiar with the states’ liability systems: responses included in this study were from respondents who were involved in or very familiar with litigation in the state less than five years ago. From there, respondents were given the opportunity to evaluate the states’ liability systems, prioritized by most recent litigation experience. As stated earlier, respondents evaluated four states, on average, via telephone and five states, on average, online.

RATING AND SCORING OF STATES

Respondents graded (A, B, C, D or F) each key element of each evaluated state’s liability system. The state-by-state tables show the ratings of the states by these grades, the percentage of respondents giving each grade, and the mean grade for each element. The mean grade was calculated by converting the letter grade using a 5.0 scale where A = 5.0, B = 4.0, C = 3.0, D = 2.0, and F = 1.0. Therefore, the mean score displayed can also be interpreted as a letter grade. For example, a mean score of 2.8 is roughly a C- grade.

The Overall Ranking of State Liability Systems table was developed by creating an index using the grades provided for each of the key elements plus the overall performance grade. All of the key elements were highly correlated with one another and with overall performance. The differences in the relationship between each element and overall performance were trivial, so it was determined that each element should contribute equally to the index score. To create the index, each grade across the elements plus the overall performance grade were rescaled from 0 to 100 (A = 100, B = 75, C = 50, D = 25, and F = 0). Then, any evaluation that contained six or more “not sure” or “decline to answer” responses per state was removed. A total of 5.2% of state evaluations were unusable. From the usable evaluations, the scores on the elements were then averaged together to create the index score from 0 to 100.

The scores displayed in this report have been rounded to one decimal point, but rankings are based on the full, unrounded number. States that appear tied based upon the scores in this report were tied when the unrounded numbers were taken into consideration.

For the Ranking on Key Elements tables, a score was calculated per element for each state based on the 0 to100 rescaled performance grades. The states were then ranked by their mean scores on that element.

RELIABILITY OF SURVEY PERCENTAGES

The results from any sample survey are subject to sampling variation. The sampling variation (or error) that applies to the results for this survey of 1,203 respondents is plus or minus 2.8 percentage points. That is, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 2.8 percentage points from the result that would have been obtained if interviews were conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample. Note that survey results based on subgroups of smaller sizes can be subject to larger sampling error.

Sampling error of the type so far discussed is only one type of error. Survey research is also susceptible to other types of error, such as refusals to be interviewed (non-response error), question wording and question order, interviewer error, and weighting by demographic control data. Although it is difficult or impossible to quantify these types of error, the procedures followed by Harris Poll keep errors of these types to a minimum.


1. The number of evaluations was rounded to the nearest whole number.