Excessive civil court costs in Louisiana are having a direct, negative effect on the state’s economy, according to a new report released today by Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch, a grassroots organization that advocates for tort reform.
The 2018 Economic Benefits of Tort Reform study found that frivolous lawsuits and excessive damage awards are costing the state’s economy some $1.1 billion a year and more than 15,500 jobs. The study asserts that all major industry groups in the state are negatively impacted by the legal climate, with retail trade, business services, health services and other service industries showing a direct loss.
The study also claims that state government loses some $76.4 million a year in revenues, while local governments lose some $64.3 million a year as a result of excessive legal costs.
“These findings clearly show that civil justice reform must be a priority in Louisiana,” says Lana Venable, executive director of Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch. “Frivolous lawsuits and exorbitant plaintiff awards impact all sectors of our economy and hurt Louisiana families, as costs are ultimately passed down to them in the form of higher prices for goods and services.”
The study was conducted by The Perryman Group for Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, a national organization with which Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch is affiliated. The study compared Louisiana’s civil court systems and related costs with those of Ohio, which has enacted significant tort reform measures in recent years.
Tort reform measures invariably top the legislative agenda for state and local business groups every year in Louisiana, and while some reforms have been enacted in recent years, Louisiana continues to rank poorly when compared to other states.
Louisiana’s legal climate was ranked 50th in 2017 by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform and was among the top 10 states listed as “judicial hellholes” in 2017 by the American Tort Reform Foundation.
“We’ve had some small improvements,” Venable says. “But this underscores that we still have a long way to go.”