More Bad News on Louisiana’s Legal Climate

Louisiana’s notorious reputation for excessive jury verdicts and an unfair judiciary has once again landed the Pelican State at the bottom of another bad list.

In a new national survey released by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, Louisiana’s lawsuit climate ranked second worst in the nation at number 49.

It’s the second time in the last three assessments that the state has ranked 49th and Louisiana has never ranked higher than 47th since the survey
began in 2002

Louisiana ranked poorly in every category—from damage awards, to venue requirements and judicial impartiality.New Orleans was also specifically noted as one of the worst local court jurisdictions in the country.

The survey, which was conducted by the nonpartisan global market research firm Harris Interactive, reflects the opinions of national companies that can bring jobs to Louisiana. And the fact is they don’t view our courts in a very good light.

Unfortunately, this news comes as no surprise. While we did make some progress earlier this year in passing legislation that will help to stop meritless lawsuits in the niche sector of legacy litigation, that was just the tip of the iceberg. We still have a lot more work to do to bring fairness and balance back to Louisiana’s civil justice system and these rankings reflect that.

This is a message voters should take with them to the polls in November. While most folks will be focused on the Presidential election this fall, there is another politicalbattle brewing that has the potential to dramatically impact the state of Louisiana’s legal climate.

With Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Kitty Kimball retiring at the end of the year, the balance of our state’s highest court is in jeopardy. Several Appellate Court Judges around the state are also up for election or reelection, so there’s a lot at stake.

Good judges are the foundation of any properly functioning judicial system. They wield a tremendous amount of power and make critical decisions that affect our economy, our health care and our environment.

This is especially true when it comes to the state Supreme Court, so it is imperative that voters get to know all the candidates before they head to the polls.

Clearly, Louisiana’s civil justice climate has a bad reputation and whether we like it or not, reputations matter. Companies look to invest and create jobs where the legal system is fair, so why would they choose to come to a state that’s nationally known for frivolous lawsuits, biased courts and outrageous jury awards?

They won’t. That’s why we need to clean up our act.

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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