This editorial was originally published in the Lake Charles American-Press.
Louisiana is classified as the second-worst state in the nation for lawsuit climate.
This disappointing news was recently highlighted by the Institute for Legal Reform, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce affiliate. For the eighth consecutive time, Louisiana was ranked near the bottom.
The survey included 1,482 people at companies with annual revenue of $100 million or more. Some 122 had handled cases in Louisiana during the past five years. The telephone survey was conducted Oct. 22 and Jan. 21.
More than 90 percent of respondents in the survey are senior attorneys for corporations.
Louisiana Chief Justice Catherine Kimball disagrees with the survey.
She told the Times-Picayune, “I strenuously object to the ILR’s taking the opinions of just a few attorneys who may never have set foot in Louisiana and making pronouncements about our courts. Whether we’re rated highly or poorly, this survey is not a valid measure of the efficiency or fairness of Louisiana courts.”
Whether valid or invalid, fair or unfair, this survey by such a prestigious organization can only reinforce Louisiana’s unfortunate national reputation for being a business-unfriendly state.
“A state’s poor legal climate negatively impacts its economic environment, discourages business expansion and slows the creation of new jobs,” said Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. “At a time when state leaders are working to spur economic development, they must remember that Louisiana needs more jobs, not more lawsuits.”
This year’s survey is the eighth such ranking of the 50 state lawsuit climates since 2002. Louisiana has never ranked above 47. Joining Louisiana in the bottom five states for legal fairness are California (46th), Alabama (47th), Mississippi (48th), and West Virginia (50th).
Louisiana will also be included in a national advertising campaign, with movie trailers shown in more than 300 theatres around the nation.
The two-minute trailers feature the stories of small businesses that were subject of costly lawsuits that had a material impact on their companies — including some in Louisiana.
Louisiana’s lawsuit climate must be improved. Like it or not, we are on a damaging list that is not going away just by denying the survey’s validity — or by filing more lawsuits.
Harris, DeVille & Associates, Inc.
521 Laurel Street
Baton Rouge, LA 70801
(225) 344-0381 (phone)
(225) 336-0211 (fax)