BATON ROUGE, LA—Three candidates for Louisiana’s 5th District Supreme Court race acknowledge abusive lawsuits are a problem in Louisiana’s courts. These comments, by candidates Jeff Hughes, Tim Kelley and Bill Morvant, were in response to a survey by Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch (LLAW).
When asked whether or not frivolous lawsuits and excessive damage awards are a problem in our courtrooms, candidate Morvant said, “I do think we see a fairly high number of suits that either should not have been filed or should have been resolved without litigation (amount in controversy does not justify the litigation expenses).”
Responding to the question of whether or not Louisiana’s civil justice system adequately deters and penalizes frivolous litigation, Morvant said, “We presently have in place La. CCP art. 863 that empowers the court to sanction a party or counsel (plaintiff or defendant) for conduct that violates its provisions. This includes improper or baseless pleadings. However, courts are very reluctant to impose sanctions except in extreme cases.”
Candidate Hughes agreed. “It seems like the same lawyers are the ones filing frivolous lawsuits over and over, and judges are not enforcing the sanctions available to discourage this practice.”
Candidate Kelley also agreed. “Without question frivolous lawsuits and excessive judgments are a problem in our courtrooms,” Kelley responded. “I do not feel that Louisiana’s civil justice system adequately deters and penalizes frivolous lawsuits,” he continued.
Also, a recent survey conducted by the American Tort Reform Association and Sick of Lawsuits found most Americans agreed with these candidates, with a strong majority–89 percent–saying they believe lawsuit abuse is a “problem.”
This view was shared across the political spectrum, with 94 percent of Republicans, 89 percent of Independents and 86 percent of Democrats all in agreement.
Candidate Jeffrey L. Sanford, however, disagreed when responding to the LLAW survey. When asked whether or not frivolous lawsuits and excessive damage awards are a problem in our courtrooms, candidate Sanford said, “No. I can’t think of a case where a frivolous judgment was granted or upheld on appeal. Nor can I think of an excessive award.”
Sanford also said he believes Louisiana’s current system “deters frivolous lawsuits.”
All the candidates were asked the same series of questions regarding a variety of legal issues affecting our state, including frivolous lawsuits, excessive damage awards, medical malpractice awards and the legislative establishment of limitations on civil damages.
John Michael Guidry, Toni Higginbotham, Mary Olive Pierson, and Jewel E. “Duke” Welch did not respond to the survey. Voters can access the complete surveys online at www.LLAW.org.
LLAW is a non-partisan, non-profit legal watchdog organization that represents more than 5,000 citizens and small businesses across the state.
LLAW is now using the surveys to educate its supporters and voters across the state about the important differences among the candidates for the District 5 seat on the Louisiana Supreme Court, which includes the parishes of East and West Baton Rouge, East and West Feliciana, Livingston, Ascension, Iberville and Pointe Coupee.
“We believe that good judges are the foundation of any properly functioning judicial system, and one of our key goals is to ensure that all Louisiana voters have the information they need to make an informed decision on Election Day,” said Melissa Landry, LLAW executive director. “We thank the candidates who took the time to provide their thoughtful responses to the survey to help Louisianans understand their positions in this important Court race.”