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SACRAMENTO � California, and in particular Los Angeles and San Francisco, has one of the most unfair litigation environments in the country, according to a survey of general counsel released Wednesday by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The annual nationwide survey of 1,599 in-house attorneys and senior litigators at companies with annual revenues of more than $100 million ranked California 45th among states based on criteria such as juries’ fairness, judges’ impartiality and punitive damages. Corporate attorneys rated only Illinois, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and West Virginia as worse venues than the Golden State. Delaware, Minnesota and Nebraska received the highest scores in the survey. “California is a haven, people believe, for class action lawsuits and other litigation,” Thomas Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said at a press conference in the state Capitol. “Plaintiffs choose to go to California because they have a better chance of getting their point across.” The American Association for Justice, a national trial lawyers group, called the chamber’s survey “bogus” and issued its own report, “The Ten Worst States to Get Sick or Injured In.” The report highlights states that cap damages in personal injury lawsuits. Jon Haber, chief executive officer of the AAJ, called the survey “propaganda” spun by “corporate lawyers earning millions of dollars defending their CEOs from being held accountable.” The survey’s unveiling preceded the launch this week of a Chamber-sponsored television and newspaper ad campaign that will promote tort reform as a potential boon to California’s economy. The Chamber and the tort reform group Civil Justice Association of California are also pushing state legislation to curb the number of class action filings in the state. The bill, AB 1505, is being carried by Assemblywoman Nicole Parra, a moderate Central Valley Democrat. Republicans in recent years have authored most tort reform bills only to watch them die quickly at the hands of the Legislature’s Democratic majority. Parra said she has yet to discuss her bill with caucus leaders or count votes. The bill does not appear to be on a fast track; its first policy hearing is scheduled in May before the Judiciary Committee, whose members include attorneys from plaintiffs and civil rights practices. Parra said she plans to go to the committee hearing “and see where the votes lie.” The Chamber released a similar survey last year � California ranked 44th � that coincided with a similar ad attack on the plaintiffs bar. Chamber officials attributed the one-place drop in ranking to an increase in asbestos lawsuit filings. Due to a reporting error, Thursday’s story about a survey ranking state liability systems incorrectly stated that survey participants included in-house counsel at companies with at least $100,000 in annual revenues. Actually, the attorneys worked in companies with annual revenue of more than $100 million. We regret the error.

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