Louisiana Earns Top "Judicial Hellhole" Ranking Again
WASHINGTON – Louisiana ranks near the top of the nation’s Judicial Hellholes at No. 4 in 2019 because of the involvement of contingency-fee lawyers in parish coastal lawsuits, the legislature’s failure to address the high cost of auto insurance caused by lawsuit abuse, and judicial misconduct plaguing the state.
The 2019 Judicial Hellholes report of the American Tort Reform Foundation finds that the lawsuit friendly legal climate in the state again ranks as one of the worst in the country. Louisiana joined Philadelphia, California and New York City at the top of the list, worsening in the rankings from last year. Louisiana has consistently been ranked in the top ten worst legal climates in the country for the past five years.
“Louisiana has the second highest auto insurance rates in the country and the legislature hasn’t been in any big hurry to do anything about it,” American Tort Reform Foundation President Tiger Joyce said. “The climate of lawsuit abuse has led to increasingly more expensive rates over the years.”
The “Omnibus Premium Reduction Act of 2019” aimed to address lawsuit abuse and Louisiana’s auto insurance rates. It passed the House but ultimately failed in Senate Judiciary Committee A.
On top of high auto insurance rates, excessive tort costs create a burden for Louisiana residents who lose their ability to create a livelihood due to the estimated loss of more than 15,000 jobs and $945 million lost in personal income. Sixty-five percent of residents do not believe lawmakers are doing enough to combat lawsuit abuse.
“Louisianans are worried about the cost of everything else increasing the way that our car insurance has,” Executive Director of Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch Lana Venable said. “Our courts are bogged down with cases and many insurers aren’t writing policies in our state anymore.”
Based on claims that the energy industry caused coastal erosion, millions of dollars have been spent on legal fees related to coastal lawsuits, while accomplishing nothing for the coast. Similar tactics used to target pharmaceutical companies to blame the opioid crisis on the industry. Local and parish governments have hired contingency-fee lawyers to file these lawsuits.
“While these may be noteworthy public policy concerns, the courtroom is not the proper venue for these discussions,” Joyce said. “Litigation is a time-consuming, expensive endeavor that takes dollars away from researching and developing new, innovative processes that could solve some of these issues at hand.”
Louisiana’s judges are not without their issues. In 2018, the Judiciary Commission that governs judges received 543 complaints, with 216 going to further review. For instance, last year it was revealed that a sitting Louisiana Supreme Court Justice was previously under FBI investigation.
“Transparency is key to maintaining the trust and confidence voters have placed in our judiciary, as well as to ensure they are holding themselves to the highest standards of conduct,” Venable said.
The country’s Judicial Hellholes are:
Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas
New York City
Illinois’s Cook, Madison and St. Clair Counties
Minnesota Supreme Court and the Twin Cities
New Jersey Legislature
The Judicial Hellholes report is released each December by the American Tort Reform Foundation to shine a light on abuses in the civil justice system and in state legislative bodies.
View the full report and read more details on Louisiana’s designation at JudicialHellholes.org.
About the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA)
The American Tort Reform Association, based in Washington, D.C., is the only national organization dedicated exclusively to tort and liability reform through public education and the enactment of legislation. Its members include nonprofit organizations and small and large companies, as well as trade, business and professional associations from the state and national level. The American Tort Reform Foundation is a sister organization dedicated primarily to research and public education.