Louisiana Can Learn A Lot from Texas About Creating Jobs, Cutting Lawsuits

Legal reform advocates from Texas and Louisiana gathered on the steps of the State Capitol Wednesday to make the point to lawmakers that civil justice reform should be a priority to help grow Louisiana’s economy.

The crux of their message was that lawsuit abuse is costing Louisiana good jobs. Armed with a banner that read, “Legal reform works.Let’s bring it to Louisiana,” the group highlighted statistics that show jobs growing in Texas as a result of legal reform and, conversely, jobs being lost in Louisiana because of the state’s poor legal climate.

A study conducted by the nationally recognized economist Ray Perryman shows lawsuit reforms enacted in Texas over the last two decades have generated 499,000 new, permanent jobs in the Lone Star State. Meanwhile, an economic report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform estimates Louisiana’s poor legal climate costs the state more than 50,000 new jobs every year.

“At a time when our state is suffering from a weak economy and a huge deficit, our neighbors in Texas are putting people to work. How is that?” asked Melissa Landry, executive director of the legal watchdog group Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch. “The answer is legal reform. There’s mounting evidence that suggests economic opportunities in Texas are much easier to come by because employers there spend less time in court fighting excessive lawsuits and more time creating jobs. That’s a trend we need to bring right here to Louisiana.”

To learn more about this model for creating jobs and cutting lawsuits, LLAW invited leaders from the Texas legal reform movement to come and share their success story.

“It is hard to imagine, but it was not long ago when Texas was known as the ‘courthouse to the world’ and the ‘wild west of lawsuit abuse’,” said Sara Trolinger with the Rio Grand Valley Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse. “But that all began to change in 1990 with the birth of the grassroots movement to fight lawsuit abuse in Texas.”

“Over the past two decades, we’ve worked with citizens and lawmakers across Texas to make lawsuit reform a top priority,” Trolinger continued. “Working together to put payrolls before payouts, we’ve enacted common sense laws to rein in excessive damage awards and prevent court shopping. We’ve put a stop to out-of-state lawsuits that had nothing to do with Texas. And under ‘loser pays’ legislation passed in 2011, people who consider filing lawsuits in Texas will be forced to consider the practicality of their complaints before taking legal action because they now face the threat of paying for the other party’s legal fees if the plaintiff’s case is found to be groundless.”

“Because of these and many other legal reforms, the Texas civil justice system has become a national model for legal reform, and the Lone Star State has become a jobs machine,” she added. “While the nation is struggling to put nearly 12 million people back to work, Texas is thriving. Unemployment is down, new job creation is up, and businesses are open. This is a model from which Louisiana could learn a lot.”

Among the numerous Texas reforms are laws to put a stop to abusive asbestos claims. Ironically, this spring Louisiana legislators took a pass on proposed bills to bring transparency and help stop abuses in this area of law.

Indeed, Louisiana lawmakers would be well advised to take a closer look at the legal reforms that have been passed in Texas, and consider bringing these reforms – and the jobs they can generate – to Louisiana.

As part of the national “Create Jobs, Not Lawsuits” tour, this event was sponsored by Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch and the national Sick of Lawsuits campaign.

Throughout 2012, the tour is visiting communities across the country to raise awareness about the damage caused by lawsuit abuse. The message of the tour is clear: lawsuit abuse is hurting our economy and costing our nation jobs. To learn more visit, www.sickoflawsuits.com or www.LLAW.org.

Melissa Landry is Executive Director of Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch, a non-partisan citizen watchdog group dedicated to improving Louisiana’s legal climate.

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