Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

48 out of 50

Yet another fine showing by Alabama in a nationwide survey--Legal climate: Is Alabama still the 'sue me' state?

Tom Bassing

For a second straight year, Alabama ranks among the bottom five in all 10 categories in a nationwide survey of corporate senior attorneys' perception of the 50 states' legal climates.

Overall, Alabama's legal climate as seen by the corporate attorneys ranks 48th in the study, which was released this month, holding the same spot as the state did last year. [...]

Alabama was perceived as unfriendly to business in all 10 categories included in the study: overall treatment of tort and contract litigation; treatment of class actions; punitive damages; timeliness of summary judgment/dismissal; discovery; scientific and technical evidence; judges' impartiality; judges' competence; juries' predictability; and juries' fairness.

The top five states in terms of "doing the best job of creating a fair and reasonable litigation environment" in the 2004 study - conducted between Dec. 5, 2003, and Feb. 5 - were Delaware at the top, Nebraska, Virginia, Iowa and Idaho.

The bottom five were, worst listed first, Mississippi, West Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana and California.

Alabama held on to the 48th spot overall for a second consecutive year, ahead of only West Virginia and Mississippi.

Obviously, if you're a plaintiff trial attorney, these rankings would be reversed, so theoretically we're in the top 3! Yay for us!

As someone who has had to sit on two different civil juries, I can vouch for the part about the poor perception regarding scientific and technical evidence, juries' predictability, and juries' fairness.

Due to past high dollar successes, there seems to be a widespread belief among the population that a tort case is like our own little version of the lottery. The idea that big dollar verdicts are good for victims seems prevalent, despite the fact that most awards enrich the attorneys much more than the actual plaintiffs--witness the recent $600 million Solutia settlement, or the multi-billion dollar Exxon settlement.

Despite this, the juries I've sat on have had an almost animalistic desire to wring some money out of a corporate fatcat or two, even if there's no evidence to support such an award.

I suppose the answer is better education--once we get some of that high-stakes bingo money flowing in, all our problems will be solved!

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