by Melissa Landry, Executive Director of Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch
Our struggling state economy, which lost nearly 50,000 private sector jobs in 2009, recently took another major hit when national business decision-makers ranked Louisiana as having one of the least fair and reasonable court systems in the United States.
In a national survey of more than 1,000 attorneys representing many of the nation’s largest employers, our state courts placed 49th out of 50 for legal fairness, just ahead of West Virginia. From damage awards, to venue requirements, jury fairness and judicial impartiality, Louisiana ranked poorly in all categories. Moreover, New Orleans was specifically noted as one of the ten worst local court jurisdictions in the country.
So what does this mean? Why should we care about what they think? Because Louisiana’s reputation as a magnet of personal injury lawyers is taking its toll on our economy as we continue losing out on new jobs and opportunities for economic growth. Simply put, the more lawsuits we attract, the more jobs we shed.
With our current unemployment rate sitting at 7.5 percent, it’s clear that Louisiana is not immune to the national recession. And in these tough economic times, the state should be doing everything it can to attract prospective employers, not discourage them.
Now, no one is suggesting that the legal climate is the only reason for Louisiana’s economic woes. Obviously, our inferior infrastructure, ineffective school systems, and high crime rates also contribute to the state’s lackluster economy. But the lack of legal reform is a factor we cannot continue to ignore.
While some personal injury lawyers who make lots of money off of frivolous lawsuits may not take this report seriously, rest assured business leaders do. Companies create jobs where the legal system is fair, so why would a company move to a state ranked second worst in the country for legal fairness?
It is time for our political leaders to embrace the need for reform. Louisiana needs more jobs – not more lawsuits.
Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch is a non-partisan, non-profit, citizen watchdog group dedicated to stopping lawsuit abuse that hurts Louisiana families and threatens our jobs and health care. Learn more at www.LLAW.org or follow us on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/ReformLouisiana.