Louisiana legal watchdog group says $52 million spent by municipalities on litigation

Alejandro de los Rios Feb. 3, 2011, 6:28am


The Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch (LLAW) released a study today stating that more than $52 million was spent by Louisiana municipalities fighting lawsuits from 2006-2009.

The findings came from an analysis of eight Louisiana municipalities including New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Alexandria, Lake Charles and Lafayette.

It states that the eight municipalities "spent $37 million in verdicts and settlements and $14.9 million in payments to outside counsel."

LLAW Executive Director Melissa Landry said the taxpayer funds for litigation are taking away from other public services.

"These numbers clearly demonstrate that there is a growing problem in Louisiana, and we can and must do more to stop it," Landry said in a statement accompanying the report.

Cuts to the Louisiana budget have been a primary focus of state lawmakers dealing with a debt of more than $38 billion. The LLAW report states that the number of lawsuits filed against municipalities rose 15 percent from 2006 to 2009 and that it cost taxpayers $88 per household.

In 2010, when newly elected Mayor Mitch Landrieu took office, the city of New Orleans was running a $67 million budget deficit. The report states that New Orleans spent $14.1 million on litigation from 2006-2009 before Landrieu was elected.

According to a records search at Orleans Parish Civil District Court, the city of New Orleans was named as a litigant in 835 lawsuits in 2009. That number rose to 874 lawsuits in 2010. Already, the city is named in 64 new lawsuits in 2011.

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