Coalition For Common Sense

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Need for Reform PDF Print E-mail

 

NOW IS THE TIME FOR CIVIL JUSTICE REFORM IN LOUISIANA

Civil justice reform was a part of many of the new legislators’ campaign platforms. Now is the time for change. Louisiana was, once again, ranked as a ‘Judicial Hellhole’ by the American Tort Reform Foundation. In fact, this year, the state moved from fifth-worst to fourth-worst in the nationLouisiana received an “F” grade in R Street Policy’s 2019 Insurance Regulation Report Card and was ranked 50th in the nation in insurance regulation.

 

In October 2018, the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform issued the report Costs and Compensations of the U.S. Tort SystemThe report concluded that, in 2016, costs and compensation paid in the U.S. tort system amounted to $429 billion, or 2.3 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. 

 

Also in 2018, Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch released the Economic Benefits of Tort Reform, anassessment measuring the impact of excessive civil court costs on Louisiana’s economy. The study, conducted by The Perryman Group for Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA), found that Louisiana is losing jobs and revenue because of the state’s civil justice system.

 

WHY WE CAN AFFECT CHANGE

This fall, Louisianans voted overwhelmingly for change in sending a supermajority of reform-minded candidates to the state Legislature who campaigned on improving the state’s business and legal climate. Legislators will elect a conservative speaker on January 13. The Legislature is motivated to improve Louisiana’s economy, which has been hindered by an historically litigious culture. The regular legislative session, in which legislators may file any number of bills on any subject matter, begins March 9. 

 

HOW WE CAN AFFECT CHANGE

Louisiana is an outlier in several ways, including allowing the potential for unfair windfalls to plaintiffs,  allowing direct action, not allowing juries to consider evidence of seat belt use in auto accident cases and holding the distinction of having the highest jury trial threshold in the nation. 

 

Some ideas to improve the legal climate include:

·      Lower the jury trial threshold

·      End the collateral source rule

·      Limit direct action against insurers

·      Regulate attorney advertising

·      Limit contingency fee attorney contracts at the local level

·      Improve judicial transparency

·      Allow juries to consider evidence of seat belt use in auto accident cases

·      Change pleading requirements in mass defendant cases 

·      Pass asbestos reform

·      Clean up venue laws

 

Louisiana Legislative Session

The 2020 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature begins on March 9 and adjourns June 1. A full report of legislation of interest to the Louisiana Coalition For Common Sense can be found here.

SB 395 by Sen. Cloud is scheduled to be heard on the House floor today. This legislation will increase transparency in legal advertising by requiring advertisers to disclose how much of the judgments and settlements actually go to the plaintiff, after attorney fees and court costs are considered. Many legal advertisements in the state promise “jackpot justice,” but plaintiffs only get a small portion of the amount advertised; this bill seeks to prohibit false promises of big payouts that encourage people to file lawsuits against businesses.

SB 418 by Sen. Talbot, the Omnibus Premium Reduction Act of 2020 will be heard tomorrow on the House floor. The bill will:

  • Lower Louisiana’s jury trial threshold from $50,000 to $5,000
  • Reform the collateral source rule 
  • Repeal the direct action statute
  • Extend the prescriptions for tort actions from 1 year to 2 years for motor vehicle accidents
  • Eliminate the seat belt gag order
  • Require a mandatory 10 percent rate reduction for personal auto insurance

Please call or email House members and ask them to SUPPORT these two great pieces of legislation.


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