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All things considered, corporations would rather be sued in Delaware. As funnyman W.C. Fields said of his epitaph, “I would rather be in Philadelphia,” so senior attorneys from companies around the country figure they would prefer to be before the Delaware Superior Court, as far as a fair and reasonable litigation system goes. This is what the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gleaned from a poll it commissioned of 824 in-house general counsel and other senior litigators at public corporations with annual revenues of $100 million or more. The survey to assess the tort liability systems in all 50 states was conducted between Nov. 7, 2001, and Dec. 11, 2001, by Harris Interactive Inc. and made public in late January. It is available on the www.litigationfairness.org Web site. Delaware was the unquestionable favorite of the poll. Other states faring well were Virginia, Washington, Kansas and Iowa. The company lawyers would rather stay out of Mississippi, West Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas. Superior Court President Judge Henry duPont Ridgely, whose court of general jurisdiction toils in the shadow of the exalted Court of Chancery and the supreme court, was left feeling affirmed. “It’s always good to be the first,” Ridgely quipped, boldly alluding to the state’s maligned marketing slogan. Ridgely accepted congratulations from Delaware Chief Justice E. Norman Veasey, who called the national ranking “extraordinarily impressive.” What of the lawyers whose business it is to sue businesses? The Delaware Trial Lawyers Association expected the local court system to be rated as one of the top 10 in the country, according to Frederick W. Iobst, the state trial lawyers’ president. Iobst believes the credit for Delaware’s status should be spread around, though. “There’s very little frivolous litigation in Delaware. Not only do we have good judges, we have a high-quality bar,” he said. The U.S. Chamber poll asked corporate counsel to judge the states in 10 areas: overall treatment of tort and contract litigation; treatment of class actions; punitive damages; timeliness of summary judgment/dismissal; discovery; scientific and technical evidence; judges’ impartiality; judges’ competence; juries’ predictability; and juries’ fairness. Delaware was first in every category. The bragging rights are nice, but … “It’s one point of view,” Iobst said.

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