California is listed as a “sinner” when it comes to the risk and cost of liability lawsuits, according to a new state-by-state study by the conservative, San Francisco-based Pacific Research Institute.
The state is ranked 34th among the 50 states in a complex system developed by PRI that considers laws on the books, actual lawsuit results and other factors. South Dakota was the least litigious state in the PRI study and dubbed a “saint” while Florida was the most, based on 2006 data.
“In the competition for jobs and capital investment among the states, those states that suffer from high tort costs and litigiousness will continue to lose jobs and businesses to states with superior tort systems,” study-co-author Lawrence J. McQuillan said. “PRI developed the Index as a tool for governors and state legislators to assess their tort systems and to enact laws that will improve the business climate of their states.”
Business and professional groups battle ceaselessly with consumer groups, environmental groups and lawyers who specialize in civil liability cases over the rules governing lawsuits in the California Legislature, with their battles occasionally spilling over into ballot measures, In the main, however, what some call “tort war” has been a political stalemate.
While the former contend that excess litigiousness discourages job-producing business investment and lines the pockets of lawyers, the latter contend that suits are a bulwark against corporate malfeasance and protect individuals against mistreatment.
The full PRI study is available here.