The American Tort Reform Association released its annual Judicial Hellholes report yesterday, providing the business community with a deep-dive look at the states with the worst tort climates in the nation. The good news for North Carolina? Besides a brief allusion to a North Carolina federal bankruptcy judge’s 2014 decision in a high-profile asbestos law case (which has no direct correlation on state legal climate), you won’t find our state listed anywhere in the report. Topping the list with the “most unfair” civil litigation climates were a lineup of usual suspects including California, New York, Florida, Missouri, Illinois, Louisiana, Texas and Virginia.
Thanks to the recent adoption of several key civil justice reforms – including measures to protect companies from abusive patent trolls, enhance the efficiency of business courts, and boost transparency in state government contracts with private attorneys – and the resulting decline in burdensome civil litigation, this is a list I am glad to say North Carolina is in no danger of appearing on anytime soon. In fact, earlier this year, North Carolina made a dramatic rise from the 20th-best legal climate for business to the 7th-best in the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform’s (ILR) 2015 Lawsuit Climate index.
North Carolina’s 13-point jump moved our business legal climate from middle of the pack to a regional and national standout. And it could not have come at a better time for those of us interested in growing new economic opportunities for North Carolinians. The ILR’s Lawsuit Climate index showed more than 75 percent of business leaders surveyed in 2015 felt that a state’s legal environment would be likely to factor into important business decisions made by their companies, a ratio that’s up from 70 percent in 2012 and 67 percent in 2010.
“More business leaders than ever have identified a state’s lawsuit climate as a significant factor in determining their growth and expansion plans,” according to a statement from ILR President Lisa A. Rickard. For North Carolina job creators, it’s just another sign of affirmation that our shared vision is working to keep North Carolina firmly on a track toward positive growth.
Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber