'Predatory legal environment' a big problem in state, Louisiana Free Enterprise Institute says

By Carrie Bradon | Jan 17, 2019

In a recent article published in The Daily Caller, Lana Sonnier Venable of Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch (LLAW)  examined the legal climate in Louisiana and commented on what she believes to be a cry for reform.

The article said the tort system in 2016 cost the average American family $3,329 per household. Yet despite the massive costs to taxpayers, the expenditures directed to plaintiff compensation is surprisingly low – only 57 percent.

The Louisiana Free Enterprise Institute (LFEI) said it discovered similar findings in its research, and Marie Centanni of LFEI recently talked with the Louisiana Record about Venable's article.

"At the close of 2018, LFEI conducted a statewide public opinion poll, and of those surveyed, an overwhelming 80 percent say lawsuit abuse in Louisiana is a very big problem," Centanni said. "And that’s just a general public opinion, when you’re talking specifically about business owners, employers debating whether to make an investment and grow their business or hire more people, that concern is amplified."

The economic ramifications for Louisiana has cost more than 15,000 jobs annually and tort expenses total $1.1 billion annually in direct costs with $1.5 billion in gross output annually, according to LLAW's study. Those working in the energy industry suffer as well, due to the fact that attorneys have begun to come forward with allegations that normal operations are corroding the coastline, which in turn threatens the jobs of so many that work in the industry.

The other challenge is the impact that this lack of reform has on the economic investments in the state of Louisiana, LFEI said.

"Concern translates to a cooling effect on general economic investment. Those in a position to provide more jobs and economic opportunity worry about taking a risk in a predatory legal environment," Centanni said.

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