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2014 DRI National Poll on the Civil Justice System


Poll Highlights

Below are some of the highlights from the second annual DRI National Poll on the Civil Justice System. The findings come from an independent, nonpartisan telephone survey conducted via landline and cell-phone interviews with a random national sample of 1,006 adults.

Class Action Lawsuits

  • 54% think class action lawsuits enable people to hold companies responsible for their actions.
  • 62% think they force companies to pay damages when they’ve done nothing wrong because it’s cheaper to settle a law suit rather than taking it to trial.
  • Only 45% think that class action lawsuits appropriately compensate people who have been harmed.
  • 78% say they’d support a law “saying that in order to join a class action lawsuit a person has to show that he or she has been actually harmed by a company’s products, services or policies, rather than just showing they could potentially have been harmed (as current law allows).”
  • 86% of Republicans and 71% of Democrats support such a change.
  • 84% think that fees paid to lawyers who file class actions should be approved by their clients.

Judicial Funding

  • 46 % think the court system has all the funding it needs to do its job adequately while 39 percent think the system is underfunded.
  • 29% say that the courts in their area have reduced services or delayed cases as a result of budget problems; more, 41 percent, say not. A particularly large share, 30 percent, have no opinion, likely due to their lack of contact with the court system.
  • Among people who see cutbacks in the court system now, 62 percent, call it a serious problem, and among those who don’t see cutbacks now, 52 percent say they would see it as a serious problem if it occurred.
  • Fifty-five percent of men find court funding adequate while 39% find it inadequate.
  • While 49 percent of men think cutbacks either are or would be a serious problem, that percentage rises to 60 percent of women.

Public Trust in Select Business Sectors

Seven business sectors were poll-tested to measure the public’s trust in them. They were: automobile manufacturers, auto insurance companies, life insurance companies, major banks and financial institutions, prescription drug manufacturers, health insurance companies, and oil and gas companies.

  • In terms of levels of trust, all sectors fell below 50% when respondents were asked if the companies within each sector were trusted a “great deal” or a “good amount.”
  • 42% felt the automobile industry was trusted “a great deal” or a “good amount,” the highest rating among the seven business sectors measured.
  • 21% of respondents felt that oil and gas companies were trusted “a great deal” or a “good amount,” the lowest rating among the seven business sectors measured.
  • Among the three types of insurance companies tested as being trusted “a great deal” or a “good amount,” automobile insurance companies were deemed so by 36%, life insurance companies by 35%, and health insurance companies by 29%.

Corporate Characteristics That Build Trust

When asked which corporate attributes were “extremely” or “very” important:

  • 89% said “quality of products or services”
  • 87% said “customer service”
  • 83% said “how it treats its employees”
  • 56% said “recommendations from others”
  • 50% said “charitable activities or involvement in the community”
  • 41% said “how long a company had been in business”