Legal Watchdog Group: Time to Fix Louisiana’s Poor Lawsuit Reputation
BATON ROUGE, LA – Following yet another abysmal ranking of Louisiana’s court system, citizen-led legal watchdog group Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch (LLAW) is urging lawmakers to reform the state’s lawsuit climate. For the eighth consecutive time, a national survey has ranked Louisiana among the worst states in the nation for legal fairness. A new survey released today by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform ranked Louisiana’s courts 49th out of all 50 states, and New Orleans is singled out as one of the worst court systems in the nation.
“Once again, Louisiana is being called out for the lack of fairness and impartiality in our courts,” said Melissa Landry, executive director of LLAW. “This dubious distinction is taking its toll on our economy as we continue losing out on new jobs and economic growth opportunities. With our unemployment rate currently sitting at 7.5%, it’s clear that we need more jobs, not lawsuits. Now is the time for Louisiana to move forward and reform our state’s unbalanced legal system.”
Many national groups have consistently rated Louisiana’s court system as lacking fairness and objectivity. In addition to the Chamber survey, the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Legal Policy has labeled Louisiana as a “magnet for mass tort lawyers” and a “hotbed for new legal theories.” The American Tort Reform Association has also described some areas of the state as “judicial hellholes” because of the conduct of some judges who do not apply the law evenhandedly to all litigants and do not conduct trials in a fair and balanced manner.
“Clearly, Louisiana’s negative legal climate needs to get back on track,” Landry continued. “We should follow the lead of our neighbors in Texas and Mississippi and demand that our Legislature pass comprehensive reforms that will help restore fairness to our legal system.”
A recent study by The Perryman Group found that legal reforms have strengthened Texas’ economy and created jobs, with approximately 8.5 percent of Texas’ economic growth since 1995 resulting from lawsuit reforms. And, while many states, including Louisiana, are suffering with weak economies and huge deficits in the wake of the national recession, Texas ranks as the top state in the nation for doing business.
The release of this year’s rankings comes just one week before the start of the Louisiana legislative session.
“In the coming months, Louisiana lawmakers will consider a number of common sense legal reform bills,” Landry said. “We urge lawmakers to join us in supporting these much-needed reforms, which will help to ensure a fair legal climate for everyone who lives, works and does business in Louisiana.”
Legal Reforms to Watch
HB 317 by Rep. Neil Abramson- Venue for Latent Exposure Cases
Currently, plaintiffs suing for asbestos exposure are able to file suit in any jurisdiction, which overwhelms court dockets in so-called “favorable” jurisdictions. House Bill 317 by Rep. Abramson requires proper venue in cases of latent disease, including asbestos and silica exposure, to be established only in the parish where the plaintiff has resided for no less than one year or in the parish where the plaintiff alleges substantial exposure occurred. If substantial exposure is alleged in multiple parishes, the district court is able to transfer the case to the parish determined appropriate.
HB 358 by Rep. Neil Abramson- Disclosure for Asbestos and Silica Claims
Currently, plaintiffs are not required to disclose if they have filed claims against a trust, so they may recover twice – or “double dip” – for the same injury, which depletes the resources for compensating true victims. House Bill 358 by Rep. Abramson requires a plaintiff in a claim for injury, death or disease related to asbestos or silica exposure, to disclose at least 180 days before trial all existing or potential claims against a trust or a fund.
HB 572 by Rep. Tim Burns- Petition in Latent Exposure Cases
Louisiana’s court system continues to see an increase in the amount of frivolous lawsuits, which sometimes includes unsupported claims. House Bill 572 by Rep. Burns requires petitions involving latent diseases to include basic information such as the time period, location and types of products for each alleged exposure.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch