Each year, the United States Chamber Institute for Legal Reform rates the "Lawsuit Climate" for business in each of the fifty states.  The Institute just released its 2008 Report.  North Carolina ranked 21st overall, down from a ranking of 16th in 2007 and 10th in 2006.

The rankings are based on a survey of several hundred in-house counsel.  A respondent could grade the judicial system in a number of states on a scale from "A" to "F," so long as he or she professed to be "somewhat familiar" with the courts of those states. 

North Carolina’s 21st place ranking is based on the responses of 58 lawyers in the survey group who said that they met the standard of being "somewhat familiar" with North Carolina’s courts.   (I wonder if these in-house counsel are satisfied if the lawyers representing them are "somewhat familiar" with their cases when they go to court).

The rating factors included things like:

  • overall treatment of tort and contract litigation
  • treatment of class action suits and mass consolidation suits
  • judges’ competence

North Carolina’s grade and ranking on each of the rating factors is here.  The State ranked highest overall in treatment of punitive damages (11th), and lowest in treatment of "non-economic damages" (37th). 

What state came in first?  Delaware, for the seventh year in a row.  Last?  West Virginia.