Baton Rouge – Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch (LLAW) today released the 2019-20 Economic Benefits of Tort Reform, an assessment measuring the impact of excessive civil court costs on Louisiana’s economy. The study, conducted by The Perryman Group for Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA), found that Louisiana is losing jobs and revenue because of the state’s civil justice system. The assessment included extensive survey data, industry information and a variety of corroborative source material. The Perryman Group analyzed outcomes in the state using Ohio, which has engaged in notable tort reform in the recent past, as a benchmark.
The total current impact of excessive tort costs on the Louisiana economy amounts to estimated losses of $1.9 billion in annual output (gross product). This amounts to about 19,800 lost jobs and losses of $1.2 billion annually in personal income for hard working Louisianans. This reduction in business activity due to civil justice costs leads to lower than expected gross product, which results in a hidden “tort tax” of $412.17 per person. All major industry groups are negatively impacted, with retail trade, business services, health services and other service industries showing the greatest losses. Yearly fiscal losses (as of 2019) are estimated at $100.3 million in state revenues and $84 million to local governments. These effects are based on the current size of the state’s population and economy and can be expected to rise over time in the absence of meaningful civil justice reforms.
The assessment found that an inadequately balanced justice system can be counterproductive. A system that generates exorbitant levels of damages or numbers of awards may result in negative impacts through the misallocation of society’s scarce economic and human resources. Some of these negative effects include increased costs and risks of doing business in an area; disincentives for innovations which promote consumer welfare; enhanced incentives to file lawsuits of questionable merit resulting in increased inefficiencies; higher insurance premiums than would exist under a more balanced approach; and increased health care costs and declining availability of medical services, among others.
“These findings clearly show that civil justice reform must be a priority in Louisiana. Frivolous lawsuits and exorbitant plaintiff awards impact all sectors of our economy. These job-killing lawsuits hurt Louisiana families, and in addition, economic opportunities are driven away while resulting costs are passed down in the form of higher prices for goods and services,” said LLAW Executive Director Lana Venable.
Civil justice reforms that have resulted in the greatest reduction in losses are those aimed at reducing frivolous lawsuits, capping appeal bonds, setting negligence standards and limiting non-economic damages. These reforms have been shown to enhance innovation and increase productivity, as well as to improve judicial efficiency and economic performance.
According to the assessment, when working properly, the judicial system provides a critical institutional framework that provides a fair and equitable forum for resolving disputes, compensates plaintiffs who have been legitimately harmed and deters undesirable behavior.
“A healthy legal system should ensure fairness for both truly impaired individuals and small and large businesses operating in Louisiana. Imbalances in the system lead to unpredictability for consumers and businesses, costing jobs and resulting in constrained economic growth,” according to Louisiana Coalition for Common Sense Executive Director Karen Eddlemon.
Louisiana was ranked 49th in the US Chamber Institute for Legal Reform’s 2019 Lawsuit Abuse Climate Survey, which measures the reasonability and balance of each states’ tort liability systems. Louisiana also earned the number four ranking in the American Tort Reform Foundation’s 2019-20 Judicial Hellholes Report based on systematic application of civil laws and court procedures.
About Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch (LLAW) Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch (LLAW) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, citizen watchdog group with nearly 20,000 supporters across the state. LLAW is dedicated to ending lawsuit abuse that hurts Louisiana’s families and threatens local businesses and jobs by bringing more balance, fairness and common sense to Louisiana’s civil justice system. Visit us on Facebook, Twitter (@ReformLouisiana) and www.llaw.org.
About the Louisiana Coalition for Common Sense (LCCS) The Louisiana Coalition for Common Sense (LCCS) is a group of professional associations, companies and individuals committed to ensuring a fair legal climate for both truly impaired individuals and small and large businesses operating in Louisiana.
About The Perryman Group (TPG) An economic and financial analysis firm, The Perryman Group (TPG provides clients with well-documented, carefully considered answers to even the most complex questions. For more than 30 years, The Perryman Group has met the challenges of thousands of clients through a systematic approach and a level of performance that assures a consistent standard of excellence. The firm has been involved in scores of major events shaping the economic landscape, from crucial corporate locations to landmark legislation to important regulatory policies to notable judicial decisions.