Louisiana Record

Friday, May 29, 2020

Harris poll: Louisiana near bottom again in lawsuit climate

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By Zeta Cross | Oct 1, 2019

vice president of government affairs at the Pelican Institute for Public Policy | Pelican Institute website

Louisiana has the second worst lawsuit climate in the nation, a new Harris poll conducted for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform has found. 

This year’s poll ranked Louisiana 49th, behind only Illinois.

The point of the survey is to help businesses determine how “business friendly” a state is. Harold Kim, chief operating officer of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, said in a press release that since the survey was begun in 2002, Louisiana has never ranked higher than 47th.

“This year’s poor performance is due to a number of factors, including excessive litigation driven by trial lawyers’ ubiquitous advertising,“ Kim said.

The survey results show that it is too easy to bring legal action against companies in Louisiana, compared to other states, Kim said.

Lana Venable, Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch Executive Director, told the Louisiana Record that "frivolous lawsuits, excessive advertising, promising quick cash and the legal assault on the job-creating oil and gas industry are all factors leading to this low ranking." 

Renee Amar, vice president of government affairs at the Pelican Institute for Public Policy, told the Louisiana Record that reform of Louisiana’s legal system is critical for her organization:

"Its current state is wrought with litigation abuse and needless government red tape,” Amar said. “If we want to bring jobs and opportunity back to Louisiana, we must ensure the state has a fair and consistent legal system."

Robert A. Kutcher, president of the Louisiana State Bar Association Board of Governors, told the Louisiana Record that the Bar Association has not seen the survey and never takes a position on such surveys. Kutcher said the results of any survey depend on who was doing the survey, what agenda they have and who puts it together. 

The state's biggest employer and economic driver is the energy industry, Kim said. He faulted local governments in Louisiana for “pursuit of novel lawsuits against the energy industry.”

Since 2017, there have been 43 lawsuits filed against energy companies by six parishes and the city of New Orleans over coastal erosion. 

The coastal erosion lawsuits are one reason that New Orleans/Orleans Parish’s legal climate ranks as one of the 10 worst local jurisdictions in the nation, Kim said.

“Plaintiffs’ lawyers have designed these lawsuits to get massive settlements while bypassing a state law that mandates cities and parishes use any award money to fix the coast,” Kim said. 

Venable said that lack of such a mandate is a red flag to her organization, which believes too many unnecessary lawsuits are filed in Louisiana.

Other criteria used in the survey where Louisiana fell short: the size of settlement awards, administration of cases, competence of judges and rules permitting lawyers to choose favorable jurisdictions.

Editor's note: The Louisiana Record is owned by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. 

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Organizations in this Story

U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR)Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse WatchPelican Institute for Public Policy