Illinois, NY among usual tort suspects in PRI study, Texas 'salvageable'

Rob Luke Mar. 13, 2008, 4:38am

SAN FRANCISCO -- Florida ranks worst in two key litigation-risk factors for business but will likely improve in future thanks to recent tort-reform measures, a nationwide study revealed today.

The Pacific Research Institute's 2008 U.S. Tort Liability Index reveals that Florida ranked worst of the 50 states in terms of tort costs and litigation risks while North Dakota ranked on top.

Colorado's rated the best tort laws while Rhode Island trailed that category.

Texas was among states declared "salvageable" for their moderate to high torts costs or moderate to high litigation risks yet moderate to high tort rulses as a result of recent reforms. Also on the salvageable list were Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey and South Carolina.

But the rankings at face value present a somewhat misleading picture, lead author Dr. Lawrence J. McQuillan stated today. Recent tort reforms in Florida have radically improved the state's legal climate, placing the Sunshine State in the "salvageable" column and its tort climate is expected to improve.

North Dakota, on the other hand, appears to be overrated because "the state lacks strong tort reform laws and could be the next target for trial lawyers looking to strike gold," McQuillan noted.

The PRI study ranked 28 variables to rank the tort climate of each state based on whether each state has laws on the books whose enforcement reduces "lawsuit abuse and tort costs." It used 13 variables to report monetary tort costs and litigation risks.

Texas is among the states that have the best overall tort rules on the books, and that will be heading in the right direction if the rules are fully implemented.

Last year's PRI study focused more on the overall costs of lawsuits to the U.S. economy. It concluded that the overall cost the tort system amounts to over $65 million annually.

The Low Fives

Tort Costs
46. Montana
47. Illinois
48. New York
49. New Jersey
50. Florida

Tort Laws
46. Illinois
47. Maryland
48. New York
49. Vermont
50. Rhode Island

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