Georgia Chamber leads conversation urging legal reform
ATLANTA – September 17, 2015 – The U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform recently released a survey conducted by Harris Poll that ranked perceptions of state lawsuit environments. 75 percent of the companies surveyed (general counsels and senior attorneys) indicated a state’s legal environment is likely to impact important business decisions such as where to locate or expand their businesses to grow jobs. This is an 18% increase from eight years ago and an all-time high.
Georgia’s lawsuit climate ranked 31 out of 50 – a drop of seven places in three years since the survey was conducted in 2012. Georgia was at an all-time low in 2003 when it ranked 39th. After significant tort reform passed in 2005, Georgia catapulted in the rankings to 24th in 2012. “Georgia’s economy is thriving however, business communities will not continue to grow without addressing flaws in its lawsuit climate,” said Georgia Chamber President and CEO Chris Clark.
The Georgia Chamber urges Governor Deal and the Georgia General Assembly to promote legal reform in Georgia and strengthen Georgia’s legal climate.
Governor Deal and the Georgia General Assembly should be applauded for their efforts in making Georgia the best state in the nation to do business. Despite Georgia’s reputation as a pro-business state, however, its lawsuit climate lags behind two of its five border states – North Carolina and Tennessee. While these states have continued to advance their legal environments, civil justice reform in Georgia is stagnant and threatens to become more inequitable in the future. Georgia has enacted very few legal reforms in the past 3 years. Some legislators offer bills that significantly expand corporate liability. The Georgia Chamber urges Governor Deal and the Georgia General Assembly to promote legal reform in Georgia and strengthen Georgia’s legal climate.
The Georgia Chamber Center for Competitiveness has identified several reforms that Georgia legislators should consider that include the following:
- E-discovery Reform: at least 40 states have updated their rules on document discovery to be more fair and even-handed. Georgia should join the mainstream and simplify the process.
- Medical Malpractice Reform: Georgia enacted legislation in 2005 that limited abusive lawsuits where doctors practice defensive medicine and intended control healthcare costs; much of the legislation has since been undone by the courts.
- Phantom Damages Reform: Georgia could limit inflated damages paid for nonexistent medical expenses in personal injury cases as an additional means of controlling healthcare costs.
- Business Judgment Rule: codifying a fair standard of gross negligence for directors and officers in their duties to banks and businesses.
Keisha N. Hines
Senior Vice President, Communications
Georgia Chamber of Commerce
404-223-2275 – office
404-409-8950 – cell