US Chamber report rates Missouri among 10 worst states for ‘lawsuit climate’

Missouri ranked No. 44 for its lawsuit climate in a national survey sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). The chamber, which supports the interests of businesses, had senior business executives questioned about “the fairness and reasonableness of state court systems.”

Missouri ranked between No. 42 and No. 45 in every subcategory that factored into the rankings, which ranged from the treatment of class-action lawsuits to trial judges’ impartiality and juries’ fairness.

Missouri’s low ranking was due in part to several large cases that awarded consumers billions of dollars, and the state’s reception of out-of-state plaintiffs. In the St. Louis jurisdiction, which the survey said is the 10th-worst jurisdiction in the country, 80% of asbestos lawsuits in 2018 were filed by people from out of state. This adds up, considering St. Louis is the sixth-most popular jurisdiction for asbestos lawsuits.

A lawsuit in St. Louis surrounding claims that Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder caused cancer ended with plaintiffs being awarded $4.7 billion dollars. Seventeen of the 22 plaintiffs were from out of the state.

But this low ranking is an improvement from Missouri’s 2017 ranking of No. 49. The ILR said this is because of reform-minded legislature and several recent Missouri Supreme Court rulings about forum shopping, which is when plaintiffs choose courts that are most likely to rule in their favor.

The top five states for businesses were Delaware, Maine, Connecticut, Wyoming and Alaska, while the worst five were Illinois, Louisiana, California, Mississippi and Florida.

The ILR said that in Illinois, which ranked last, some tech companies have allegedly stopped selling their products for fear of lawsuits. Meanwhile in Delaware, which ranked No. 1, the ILR said the state has the most competent judges and stable legal system in the country.

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