Cook County Record

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Survey: South Dakota has most business-friendly legal environment in U.S.

By Dee Thompson | Sep 27, 2017

Ti southdakota

PIERRE, S.D. — A recent survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform reveals South Dakota is ranked No. 1 among states for having business-friendly legal environment. 

The survey, dubbed the "2017 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States," was conducted by Harris Poll and asked business executives to rank the litigation environment in a state they "were very or somewhat familiar with," according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform.

Illinois, for its part, ranked 48th among U.S. states. The Institute for Legal Reform owns this publication.

David Owen, president and chief lobbyist of the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce & Industry, told the Cook County Record that he’s not surprised by the ranking.

“One of the reasons why a corporation wants to do business here is in part due to the fact that they know they are not going to get sued," he said. "They will have some level of protection.”

He is proud of his state, but this is not its first such honor. 

“This fits our trophy case elegantly," Owen said. "I’m not completely being cynical or skeptical about that. We’ve been on Forbes' best places to start a small business. We’ve been deemed to have an investment-worthy business atmosphere.” 

Most of South Dakota's residents live in smaller towns, and that mindset, Owen said, is reflected in the judicial system. 

“South Dakota’s culture, extending through its courts, juries and those kinds of things, is looking to be fair," he said. "We’ve done a fairly decent job of setting some parameters like medical malpractice limits. We don’t have a lot of class-action suits. We don’t have a lot of juries giving huge penalty awards. We don’t have a legal community that’s looking to strike it rich.”

Owen said his state is great for business for a number of reasons.

“South Dakota’s economic atmosphere is investment-worthy," he said. "We have reasonable taxes. We have no personal or corporate income tax. We have a really broad sales tax. We haven’t gotten all caught up in a bunch of government stuff that costs us a fortune. We have a governor that decided one of his goals was to get us a AAA rating. He inherited a budget disaster and solved it. So this is a place that lives within its means and is moderate in regulations.” 

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U.S. Chamber of Commerce