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

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Mouse Over the Map Above to Explore State by State

Alabama

2017

#43

2015

#46

2012

#43

Alaska

2017

#6

2015

#12

2012

#13

Arizona

2017

#25

2015

#25

2012

#17

Arkansas

2017

#36

2015

#41

2012

#35

California

2017

#47

2015

#47

2012

#47

Colorado

2017

#35

2015

#16

2012

#23

Connecticut

2017

#16

2015

#22

2012

#25

Delaware

2017

#11

2015

#1

2012

#1

Florida

2017

#46

2015

#44

2012

#41

Georgia

2017

#40

2015

#31

2012

#24

Hawaii

2017

#23

2015

#30

2012

#29

Idaho

2017

#3

2015

#6

2012

#6

Illinois

2017

#48

2015

#48

2012

#46

Indiana

2017

#15

2015

#18

2012

#14

Iowa

2017

#13

2015

#4

2012

#10

Kansas

2017

#18

2015

#19

2012

#5

Kentucky

2017

#42

2015

#39

2012

#38

Louisiana

2017

#50

2015

#49

2012

#49

Maine

2017

#9

2015

#14

2012

#12

Maryland

2017

#19

2015

#28

2012

#33

Massachusetts

2017

#14

2015

#17

2012

#19

Michigan

2017

#22

2015

#24

2012

#27

Minnesota

2017

#4

2015

#13

2012

#4

Mississippi

2017

#44

2015

#43

2012

#48

Missouri

2017

#49

2015

#42

2012

#34

Montana

2017

#27

2015

#34

2012

#45

Nebraska

2017

#7

2015

#3

2012

#2

Nevada

2017

#37

2015

#35

2012

#37

New Hampshire

2017

#5

2015

#5

2012

#21

New Jersey

2017

#41

2015

#38

2012

#32

New Mexico

2017

#32

2015

#45

2012

#44

New York

2017

#29

2015

#21

2012

#18

North Carolina

2017

#33

2015

#7

2012

#20

North Dakota

2017

#17

2015

#15

2012

#8

Ohio

2017

#26

2015

#27

2012

#30

Oklahoma

2017

#31

2015

#33

2012

#42

Oregon

2017

#21

2015

#32

2012

#28

Pennsylvania

2017

#38

2015

#37

2012

#40

Rhode Island

2017

#24

2015

#26

2012

#31

South Carolina

2017

#34

2015

#36

2012

#39

South Dakota

2017

#1

2015

#9

2012

#11

Tennessee

2017

#30

2015

#23

2012

#26

Texas

2017

#39

2015

#40

2012

#36

Utah

2017

#12

2015

#10

2012

#9

Vermont

2017

#2

2015

#2

2012

#16

Virginia

2017

#10

2015

#11

2012

#7

Washington

2017

#28

2015

#29

2012

#22

West Virginia

2017

#45

2015

#50

2012

#50

Wisconsin

2017

#20

2015

#20

2012

#15

Wyoming

2017

#8

2015

#8

2012

#3

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

Report Highlights

The 2017 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States was conducted for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform by Harris Poll to explore how fair and reasonable the states’ 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. Most of the respondents in this survey (85%) 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 75% in 2015 and 70% in 2012.

The 2017 survey also reveals that the overall average scores of the states are increasing, and senior attorneys and executives see the litigation environment improving generally; more than six in ten respondents (63%) view the fairness and reasonableness of state court liability systems in the United States as excellent or pretty good, up from 50% in 2015 and 49% in 2012. The remaining 36% view the system as only fair or poor, or declined to answer (1%).

Participants in the survey were comprised of a national sample of 1,321 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 are: (1) knowledgeable about litigation matters at companies; and (2) have first-hand, recent litigation experience in each state they evaluate. The 2017 ranking builds on previous years’ work where in ten prior surveys (beginning in 2002) all 50 states were ranked by those familiar with the litigation environment in that state.

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.

2017 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States – National

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

  • Overall treatment of tort and contract litigation
  • Enforcing meaningful venue requirements
  • Treatment of class action suits and mass consolidation suits
  • Damages
  • Proportional discovery
  • Scientific and technical evidence
  • Trial judges’ impartiality
  • Trial judges’ competence
  • Juries’ fairness
  • The quality of appellate review

Respondents assigned grades of A, B, C, D, or F to each of these elements. The rankings were developed from these grades.

 

2017 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States – National

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Executive Summary Download PDF
Full Report with Questionnaire Download PDF
 

Archives

2015 | 2012 | 2010 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002
 
2017 State Liability Systems Ranking Study

Overall Rankings of State Liability Systems 2012 - 2017

STATE 2017 RANK 2017 SCORE 2015 RANK 2012 RANK
South Dakota 1 75.3 9 11
Vermont 2 75.2 2 16
Idaho 3 75.0 6 6
Minnesota 4 74.2 13 4
New Hampshire 5 73.9 5 21
Alaska 6 73.8 12 13
Nebraska 7 73.5 3 2
Wyoming 8 73.3 8 3
Maine 9 73.2 14 12
Virginia 10 72.8 11 7
Delaware 11 72.8 1 1
Utah 12 72.8 10 9
Iowa 13 72.6 4 10
Massachusetts 14 72.1 17 19
Indiana 15 71.9 18 14
Connecticut 16 71.8 22 25
North Dakota 17 71.5 15 8
Kansas 18 71.5 19 5
Maryland 19 70.8 28 33
Wisconsin 20 70.7 20 15
Oregon 21 70.4 32 28
Michigan 22 70.4 24 27
Hawaii 23 70.0 30 29
Rhode Island 24 69.9 26 31
Arizona 25 69.8 25 17
Ohio 26 68.7 27 30
Montana 27 68.7 34 45
Washington 28 68.4 29 22
New York 29 68.4 21 18
Tennessee 30 68.3 23 26
Oklahoma 31 68.3 33 42
New Mexico 32 68.2 45 44
North Carolina 33 68.2 7 20
South Carolina 34 67.7 36 39
Colorado 35 67.6 16 23
Arkansas 36 67.2 41 35
Nevada 37 66.6 35 37
Pennsylvania 38 66.3 37 40
Texas 39 64.3 40 36
Georgia 40 64.1 31 24
New Jersey 41 63.8 38 32
Kentucky 42 61.7 39 38
Alabama 43 61.1 46 43
Mississippi 44 61.1 43 48
West Virginia 45 60.6 50 50
Florida 46 60.5 44 41
California 47 60.0 47 47
Illinois 48 59.1 48 46
Missouri 49 58.1 42 34
Louisiana 50 56.6 49 49


Scores presented in this table have been rounded to one decimal place, but rankings are based on the unrounded number.

Overall Rating of State Court Liability Systems Over Time



2017 results are given for a base of 1,321 general counsel, senior litigators/attorneys, and senior executives.

Summary of Top/Bottom 5 States by Key Elements



2017 results are given for a base of 1,321 general counsel, senior litigators/attorneys, and senior executives.

Impact of Litigation Environment on Important Business Decisions


2017 results are given for a base of 1,321 general counsel, senior litigators/attorneys, and senior executives.

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

Chicago or Cook County, Illinois 23%
Los Angeles, California 18%
Jefferson County, Texas 17%
New Orleans or Orleans Parish, Louisiana 14%
San Francisco, California 13%
Detroit, Michigan 13%
Miami or Dade County, Florida 12%
Madison County, Illinois 12%
New York, New York 11%
St. Louis, Missouri 10%
Washington, DC 10%
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 8%
Other 3%

*Respondents were asked to respond to this closed-end list of city and county courts by selecting up to two responses. Other mentions volunteered by respondents are represented by "Other" in the list. The total number is greater than 100% due to the fact that this was a multiple-response question.

AN OVERVIEW

The 2017 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 1,321 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 revenue of at least $100 million. The general counsel, senior litigators or attorneys, and other senior executives included in this study were involved in or are very familiar with litigation in the states they evaluated within the past five years. On average, each telephone respondent evaluated four states, and each online respondent evaluated six states1. As a result, these 1,321 individual respondents represent a total of 7,617 responses or state evaluations.

Phone interviews averaging 23 minutes in length were conducted with a total of 312 respondents and took place between March 31, 2017 and June 26, 2017. Online interviews using the same questionnaire and averaging 16 minutes in length were conducted with a total of 1,009 respondents and took place between April 3, 2017 and June 26, 2017.

SAMPLE DESIGN

For the telephone sample, a comprehensive list of general counsel at companies with annual revenue of at least $100 million was compiled using Hoovers Phone, InfoUSA, National Data Group, and ALM Legal Intelligence and Leadership Directories. An alert letter was sent to the general counsel at each company, when possible. 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 to schedule an appointment for a telephone interview. It also alerted the general counsel to a $100 incentive in the form of a gift code 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, Survey Sampling International, Critical Mix, Research Now, Empanel, 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 revenue, and that they had the appropriate title or role within the company.

SAMPLE CHARACTERISTICS

Half of respondents (51%) were general counsel, corporate counsel, heads of litigation, senior counsel/litigators, or chief legal officers. The remaining 49% of respondents were senior executives knowledgeable about or responsible for litigation at their companies. Respondents had an average of 16 years of relevant experience with litigation at their companies, including in their current position. All respondents were familiar with or had litigated in the states they rated within the past five years, and the majority of this experience (76%) took place within the past three years.

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 within the past five years. From there, respondents were given the opportunity to evaluate the states’ liability systems, prioritized by their most recent litigation experience. As stated earlier, respondents evaluated four states, on average, via telephone and six 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 above 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 3, page 16) was developed by creating an index using the grades provided for each of the key elements. To create the index, each grade across the elements was 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 5.9% of state evaluations were unusable. From the usable evaluations, the scores on the elements were then averaged 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 Rankings on Key Elements (Tables 7–16, pages 22–31), a score was calculated per element for each state based on the 0 to 100 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 1,321 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 average number of evaluations was rounded to the nearest whole number. Partial evaluations of states were not included.