Reaction to a recent post on the Wall Street Journal Law Blog (here) makes it clear that my colleague Ted Eisenberg's (Cornell) data-driven critique (forthcoming in JELS) of the US Chamber of Commerce's annual state "rankings" of perceived "lawsuit climate" struck something of a raw nerve. As the WSJ notes, "The Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform publishes an annual survey, conducted by the Harris Poll, which ranks states from best to worst, according to how their judges treat class actions, the prevalence of punitive damages, and juries’ “predictability and fairness” among other factors." The WSJ's brief summary of Ted's critique of the survey follows:
"Eisenberg concludes that the survey itself is logically inconsistent. Respondents, for example, he writes, make incorrect conclusion about which states are the most favorable towards punitive damages due to erroneous impressions among the respondents or even misrepresentations of a state’s laws by the Chamber. He says that a state’s movement in the ranking — such as New Jersey’s, which plummeted in one year — could not be validated by a detailed analysis of legal events in the state. Another problem: respondents are given the prior year’s rankings before offering their opinions. This reduces the likelihood that a state could shake an unfavorable image, even if state law there had changed."