As this week marks Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week (Oct. 1-5), it’s important that awareness include understanding how the troubling racket entrenched in today’s legal system impacts far more than just parties to lawsuits. The growing degree of impact is highlighted in a recent U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) study which found companies are increasingly considering a state’s lawsuit environment as a factor for important business decisions including business relocations or expansions.
In the 2012 State Liability Systems Ranking Study, those submitting responses were lawyers – company general counsels and senior attorneys. Of the more than 1,100 respondents, 70% said important business decisions were likely to be impacted by a state’s lawsuit environment. This number, up 13 percent from a pre-recession survey conducted five years prior, suggests the general public’s growing mistrust and frustration with the legal system has now found a place in corporate decision-making – and not with just the minor issues, but with the major decisions like business relocations and expansions.
Business and employment opportunities are often the lifeblood of communities. Reduce economic activity, reduce your community’s tax base, so also reduced are quality of life offerings and ultimately, a community’s sustainability. The ILR study suggests that a good or bad assessment of an area’s legal quality of life now helps determine where to bring new business or to grow existing sites. And these decisions – sometimes to the good, sometimes to the bad – impact many Americans.
In this ranking, Texas is #36 of 50 states. We’re closer to the bottom (the worst) than to the top. The good news is that we’re up from #41 in 2008. The bad news, 35 other states ranked as having greater fairness in their litigation environments.
West Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi, California and Illinois were the study’s bottom states. Interesting that such a diverse mix of states would find common ground in the area of corruption. Top-rated states - Delaware, Nebraska, Wyoming, Minnesota and Kansas – are likely to experience consequences from their status as well.
NOTE: The Oct. 9 Austin premiere of InJustice the Film, a documentary highlighting how class action lawsuits have become an international enterprise that rivals the scope and profits of Fortune 500 corporations, will illustrate the identification of specific companies or industries as target-rich opportunities ripe for legal exploitation and the calculated, corrupt culture that surrounds these actions. Click here for more event information.
Lou Ann Anderson is an advocate working to create awareness regarding the Texas probate system and its surrounding culture. She is the Online Producer at www.EstateofDenial.com, a Policy Advisor with Americans for Prosperity – Texas and a Director of Women on the Wall. Lou Ann may be contacted at info@EstateofDenial.com.