U.S. Chamber liability ranking draws both praise and criticism

Liability & Insurance Week
Monday, March 14, 2005

An annual ranking of states by the United States Chamber of Commerce based on their liability systems has evoked a storm of controversy. 
“We are not surprised to see that states ranking low in this year’s liability ranking report are also home to Judicial Hellholes,” said Sherman Joyce, president of the American Tort Reform Association. 
“However,” he said, “states that have enacted meaningful civil justice reform are showing signs of improvement with business returning to those states and medical liability premiums going down or stabilizing.” 
But Todd A. Smith, president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, blasted the report. 
“The latest phony U.S. Chamber of Commerce ‘study’ once again proves that this mouthpiece for the tobacco, insurance, drug, chemical and other industries can buy a useless ‘survey’ reflecting the opinion of corporate defense lawyers that Enron, Worldcom, Firestone, the asbestos industry and other corporate wrongdoers shouldn’t have to be held accountable for the harm they cause to consumers, workers and shareholders,” he said.

Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice & Democracy, said however it is “completely unwarranted, unfair and contrary to the opinion of business leaders in the states” to criticize certain state business climates based on nothing more than the views of corporate lawyers.  She said that to the extent anyone could decipher the details of the survey, it seems clearly designed to test responses to a set of arguments reflecting the Chamber’s political agenda to limit lawsuits and the liability of corporate wrongdoers.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D

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