Akron, Ohio made a shrewd survival move when it withdrew its lawsuit against former lead-paint maker Sherwin-Williams. And it ensured that the act will register on the media's radar screen by publicly shutting down its relationship with plaintiff law firm Motley Rice. No, the city didn't take the call from Motley Rice's lawyer Jack McConnell, who has become a brandname in lead-paint public nuisance litigation circles.
Tomorrow in Akron and throughout the rest of the Buckeye State, auto workers will be making the decision to take Ford's buyout or live in denial that they will somehow be among those who will hold onto their well-paying jobs. No matter what they choose (a sort of "Sophie's Choice") it's Black Monday in Ohio.
Sad. It's come to this: Ford will no longer be a key source of jobs in Ohio. According to THE PLAIN DEALER reporter Peter Krouse, "Ford is strapped." The company is offering a buyout now. After that, predicts Krouse, "the next severance to come along might be involuntary."
Ohio needs to attract new employers and to provide incentives to those already there to stay and maybe expand. To do that it has to clean up its track record for nuisance lawsuits against business.
According to Fulbright and Jaworski's Litigation Trend Survey, 89 percent of the corporations interviewed, 89 percent reported they have faced 1 new lawsuit in 2005 vs. two-thirds in the last survey. Clearly, the litigation risk is as serious to business as all the other major risks, ranging from hits from technological innovation to global economic conditions. Anything a state can do, including preventive legislation, to assist business in managing that risk factor has morphed perhaps into the most tasty new carrot for economic development.