South Dakota topped the 2017 Lawsuit Climate Survey as having the best lawsuit climate in the nation. It’s an improvement by eight positions since the 2015 edition.

The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform commissions the poll every other year as a way to create an overall ranking of state liability systems. A panel of over 1,300 senior litigators, attorneys or senior executives from both private and public law firms with over $100 million in revenue took part. Each respondent was also required to be very familiar with litigation in the state being evaluated.

Among ten specific areas, South Dakota ranked in the top ten for each category. Vermont was the only other state that accomplished that feat.

South Dakota scored top rankings in three of the ten sections including Jury Fairness, Damages, and Treatment of class action suits and mass consolidation suits. The lowest ranking came in Proportional discovery by scoring a ninth-place finish. In each area respondents were asked to give a letter grade (A-F) as to their experience in each section.

Delaware had been the best state in the survey in the previous ten incarnations. This year Delaware ranked eleventh.

Below is the list of categories and South Dakota’s rank in each.

  • Enforcing meaningful venue requirements: 7
  • Overall treatment of tort and contract litigation: 4
  • Treatment of class action suits and mass consolidation suits: T1
  • Damages: 1
  • Proportional discovery: 9
  • Scientific and technical evidence: 7
  • Trial judges’ impartiality: 5
  • Trial judges’ competence: 3
  • Juries’ fairness: 1
  • Quality of appellate review: 2

You can also see more from the report here.


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