Study Finds Illinois Ranked as Worst State and Cook County as Worst Jurisdiction in Nation for Business Litigation

When companies decide where to establish a headquarters or where to expand, they must weigh several factors such as access to qualified candidates and tax laws. One factor businesses are considering more and more is the litigation climate of a state or local jurisdiction. According to a recent study, that does not bode well for Illinois, which ranked last among states for the quality of its litigation climate among businesses. Additionally, the City of Chicago and Cook County ranked as the worst local jurisdiction in the nation according to the same study.

Since 2002, the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform has conducted a survey to explore how fair and reasonable the states’ liability systems are perceived to be by U.S. businesses. Last year’s survey was performed by The Harris Poll and consisted of more than 1,300 respondents consisting of in-house general counsel, senior litigators, and other senior executives at companies with at least $100 million in annual revenues.

The survey broadly focuses on perceptions of a state’s liability system by asking participants to assign a state a grade of A, B, C, D, or F in each of the following areas:

  • Overall treatment of tort and contract litigation
  • Enforcing meaningful venue requirements
  • Treatment of class action suits and mass consolidation suits
  • Damages
  • Proportional discovery
  • Scientific and technical evidence
  • Trial judges’ impartiality
  • Trial judges’ competence
  • Juries’ fairness
  • The quality of the appellate review

These grades were then used to develop the ranking of each state. The study also sought to identify specific cities or counties that might impact a state’s ranking. Accordingly, participants were given a list of cities or counties with reputations for having a poor litigation climate and asked to select two that have the least fair and reasonable litigation environments.

The results of the study were published in a report titled The 2019 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States. Overall, Illinois ranked 50 out of 50. Illinois beat out Louisiana (49th), California (48th), Mississippi (47th), and Florida (46th) for the dubious distinction as the state with the worst litigation climate. Illinois has ranked in the bottom five states every year since 2005. Its highest ranking came in 2002, the first year the study was conducted when Illinois was ranked 34th.

Chicago and Cook County ranked as the worst local jurisdiction by participants with 24% of respondents ranking it as the worst jurisdiction for litigation (Los Angeles, California ranked as the second-worst with 20%). Illinois nearly captured 20% of the top 10 worst local jurisdictions with Madison County, Illinois just missing the top 10 and coming in as the 11th worst jurisdiction in the nation.

In addition to ranking last overall, Illinois ranked last or nearly last in every key element surveyed. In the area of “Enforcing Meaningful Venue Requirements,” Illinois ranked 50th. In the area of “Overall Treatment of Tort and Contract Litigation,” Illinois ranked 50th. In the area of “Treatment of Class Action Suits and Mass Consolidation Suits,” Illinois ranked only behind California. In the area of “Damages,” Illinois ranked 48th behind Louisiana and California. In the area of “Proportional Discovery,” Illinois ranked 50th. In the area of “Scientific and Technical Evidence,” Illinois ranked 49th behind Louisiana. In the areas of “Trial Judges’ Impartiality” and “Trial Judges’ Competence,” Illinois ranked 49th and 50th respectively. Illinois also ranked 50th in “Quality of Appellate Review” and 49th in “Juries’ Fairness.”

When asked what impact a state’s litigation climate made on businesses, 89% of participants responded that it is likely to impact important business decisions (with 50% of respondents saying it is “very likely” to impact such decisions). These decisions include decisions such as where to locate or where to expand, which could have large-scale, long-term economic consequences for a state.

For those who do business in Illinois, this study merely highlights the importance of having experienced business litigation lawyers and business trial attorneys on your side. The attorneys at Lubin Austermuehle have extensive business litigation experience resolving partnership, shareholder and other commercial litigation disputes. They have handled everything from breach of contract claims to copyright and trademark infringement suits and everything in between. Having spent decades building their business in the Midwest, we are very qualified to handle your Illinois business dispute.


Super Lawyers named Chicago business litigation lawyer Peter Lubin a Super Lawyer and Chicago commercial dispute attorney Patrick Austermuehle a Rising Star in the Categories of Class Action, Business Litigation, and Consumer Rights Litigation. Our Westmont and Lisle breach of contract and fiduciary duty, civil litigation lawyers handle emergency business lawsuits involving copyrights, trademarks, injunctions, TROS, covenants not to compete, distributor and dealer wrongful termination. We also assist Chicago, Evanston and Oakbrook Terrace area businesses and business owners who are victims of fraud. You can contact us by calling (630) 333-0333. You can also contact one of our business dispute lawyers near Elmhurst and Clarendon Hills online here.

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