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Legal Climate Sends Business to IN from IL

Indiana and Illinois often compete for the same companies who are looking to get established in the Midwest. (V. Carter)
Indiana and Illinois often compete for the same companies who are looking to get established in the Midwest. (V. Carter)
September 15, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS – A new report says if Illinois wants to stop losing business to Indiana, it needs to lose the reputation of having an open door to out-of-state attorneys with big litigation cases.

A Harris poll that ranks states on their lawsuit climate, including unfair litigation and large verdicts, has put Illinois almost at the bottom. It came in 48th, while Indiana was ranked 15th.

Curt Mercadante, the spokesperson for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, says these big cases clog up the courts for local residents who may need to use them. He says when a company is deciding where to set up shop, the economy, regulations, and the legal climate are considered and on all of those fronts Indiana scores higher.

"What these executives are saying is (that) legal climate is clearly, absolutely one of those factors that we look at," he says. "And so all things being equal, you look at Indiana and you look at Illinois, the legal climate is something that clearly tilts in the favor of locating or expanding in Indiana."

According to the 2017 Lawsuit Climate Survey, 85 percent of senior company attorneys and other executives said a state's lawsuit environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their company, including whether to locate or expand.

Mercadante says states such as Illinois are magnets for out-of-state attorneys who are hoping for a big-dollar victory in court, and that gives pause to business owners.

"Certainly, it can't afford to have businesses looking at the state and wincing when they consider coming there, and so any time a state can do something to improve the ability to attract new businesses, which is jobs," he explains.

According to the report, South Dakota ranked first as far as having laws in place that keep out-of-state attorneys from clogging up local courts with lawsuits. Missouri and Louisiana were the only states scoring worse than Illinois.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN