The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says Illinois still has one of the most anti-business court climates in America, despite progress in the once-vilified Madison County civil courts.
The business group ranked the state’s civil courts 46th, the same as last year. Missouri ranked 31st, according to a report released Tuesday.
The group said reforms in Madison County, once labeled a “judicial hellhole” by business groups, have been balanced out by rampant lawsuit abuse in Cook County, the state’s largest county.
* So, how were the rankings made? Here’s the explanation…
All interviews for The 2008 State Liability Systems Ranking Study were conducted by telephone among a nationally representative sample of in-house general counsel, senior litigators and other senior attorneys who are knowledgeable about litigation matters at companies with annual revenues of at least $100 million. Interviews averaging 23 minutes in length wereconducted with a total of 957 respondents and took place between December 18, 2007 and March 19, 2008.
* Nationally, that’s not a bad sample size at all. However, state by state sample sizes were pretty darned small. Indiana, which ranked 4th best in the nation, had a survey sample size of just 58 people. Illinois’ ranking appears to be based on 131 respondents, but the Harris poll claims 250 were interviewed, so I’m not exactly sure about that.
* The Illinois poll found that…
Greater than one out of every two business decision makers (53%) has made a business decision primarily to avoid a potential lawsuit.
That’s pretty open-ended. Did some of the companies produce a safer product because of the threat of a lawsuit? Did a restaurant go out of its way to clean thoroughly clean its kitchen, for instance? Wouldn’t that be a good thing?
* There’s no doubt that the trial lawyers have had the upper hand at the General Assembly over the past few decades, even though the GA did pass a significant medical malpractice reform bill. The Illinois Trial Lawyers had this point-by-point response to the survey…
* Only corporate defense lawyers from companies earning $100 million or more were surveyed. No local attorneys, judges, or media were surveyed.
* The methodology has already been debunked. U.S. Chamber’s own pollster admitted to Copley News Service in 2004 that there is no way to measure the fairness of a state’s legal system.
* In 2006, U.S. Chamber’s CEO and the same pollster confessed to the Charleston Gazette that only a fraction of corporate defense lawyers knew anything about West Virginia’s courts, even though they ranked poorly at 49th.
* There is no margin of error or evidence the “rankings” are statistically valid. U.S. Chamber lists multiple tables pretending to detail the methodology without actually revealing the response rate or accuracy of its poll.
Even so, this is an interesting snapshot and worth discussion.
Try not to spew talking points in the comments, please. Stay reasoned and reasonable. Vitriol will be deleted.