Richard “Dickie” Scruggs and some of his close associates in Mississippi, Bill Lerach and Mel Weiss, former partners of the presently indicted law firm of Milberg Weiss, are a few of America's most powerful plaintiffs’ trial lawyers who recently have pled guilty for crimes -- Scruggs for attempting to bribe a judge, and the Milberg Weiss lawyers for fraudulent activities related to paying people to be lead plaintiffs in securities class action cases.

Joey Langston, a Mississippi trial lawyer and Scruggs associate who pled guilty in the Scruggs judge bribery scandals was the Mississippi Trial Lawyer Association’s Lawyer of the Year in 2007.

The trial lawyers like to suggest that “big corporate CEOs” are principally the ones who care about lawsuits, and that lawsuits aren't a concern to small business owners. Try telling that to Rollie Haas, Rick Popp, Crystal Chodes or any of the countless small business people who have been victims of abusive lawsuits.

Along with the Lawsuit Climate 2008 survey, we also surveyed business people in Louisiana, Illinois, California and Florida about their feelings regarding lawsuits. These mostly small business owners are overwhelmingly concerned about lawsuits, they say lawsuits factor into most of their business decisions and they'd like to see their state legislators do something about it. But I understand that the trial lawyers will dismiss the "perceptions" of these small business owners as being biased, as well.

For seven years now, the Institute for Legal Reform has conducted this state ranking. It has helped many states understand how their legal climates are perceived by America’s largest employers and creators of economic growth.

While we are pleased that the trial lawyers are helping us get the word out again this year, we welcome them to take a look at the actual facts and consider updating their talking points. In case they need a copy, here’s the link.

Bryan Quigley

Bryan Quigley is the Senior Vice President of Strategic Communications at the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.