Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch (LAWW) Executive Director Melissa Landry Photo courtesy of Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch
Every October, Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch joins legal reform groups from across the country to promote a national dialogue about the devastating impact frivolous lawsuits have on our courts and our economy. The goal is to encourage citizens and lawmakers to take action to reform our legal system.
This year, “Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week” comes at a critical time. Louisiana’s lawsuit climate has hit rock bottom. Due to a perceived lack of fairness, abusive and excessive litigation and ongoing concerns about judicial integrity, our state courts are now nationally known as the worst place in the country to be sued.
According to the latest 2017 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States, a biennial assessment of state liability systems conducted by Harris Interactive and released by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), Louisiana ranks 50th out of 50 states.
Unfortunately, the survey results did not come as a surprise. Litigation is a growing industry in Louisiana. From problematic venue laws, to widespread judicial misconduct, a lack of transparency in asbestos litigation and trust claims, broad misuse of consumer protection laws, and the highest jury trial threshold in the nation—there are many troubling aspects of our legal system that contribute to the perception that it is difficult, if not impossible, for some to get a fair shake in our courts.
Louisiana ranked dead last in seven of the 10 categories in the survey, including for its judges’ competence and impartiality, the fairness of its juries, and the quality of its appeals process.
New Orleans/Orleans Parish also ranked as the fourth worst lawsuit jurisdiction in the nation.
“Considering that over 70% of the world’s lawyers live and practice in the United States, this unfortunate reputation may essentially make us one of the most hostile legal climates in the world in terms of investment and economic development,” said Louisiana Association of Business and Industry President Stephen Waguespack. “Considering we need every private sector job we can get these days, that can’t be good.”
Indeed, our current legal system is sucking the life out of Louisiana.
“The state’s long history of litigation abuse and the questionable integrity of its courts hurts everyone by holding back more robust job growth and investment,” said ILR President Lisa A. Rickard.
Louisiana has languished near the bottom of the legal climate rankings since ILR and Harris began conducting the survey nearly a decade ago.
Year after year, we lose jobs and major projects to other states. Our young people are leaving in droves. Our economy continues to suffer and yet, our leaders refuse to take common-sense steps that many other states have taken to improve their legal systems and create jobs.
Clearly, the status quo is not working. It is long past time to pass comprehensive legal reform in Louisiana.
For more information about Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch, visit us at www.LLAW.org.