Editorial: Lawsuit climate costing state money, jobs

A survey ranks the lawsuit climate in Louisiana as the second worst in the nation.

The U.S. Chamber Institute for

Legal Reform, which conducted the survey, says that doesn’t bode well

for business expansion.

According to the ILR, seven out of 10 survey respondents said a

state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact key business

decisions at their company. That’s up 13 percent from survey

results five years ago, according to the ILR.

“Despite recent positive developments, Louisiana is still notorious for excessive verdicts, loose class-certification standards

and an unfair judiciary,” said Lisa Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.

The survey, conducted earlier this

year, asked general counsels, senior attorneys and leaders in companies

with annual revenues

of at least $100 million to rank states for their overall

treatment of tort, contract and class action litigation. They were

also asked to rank states for the impartiality and competence of

judges and fairness of juries.

None of this is new to Louisiana. This was the third consecutive year that Louisiana was ranked 49th in the country for lawsuit

climate. The state has never ranked higher than 47th since the beginning of the survey in 2002.

West Virginia was ranked 50th. Illinois was ranked 46th, followed by California and Mississippi.

Conversely, Delaware was ranked first in the country for lawsuit climate, followed by Nebraska, Wyoming, Minnesota and Kansas.

Louisiana ranked dead last in

timeliness of summary judgments or dismissals and 49th in overall

treatment of torts and contract

litigations, treatment of class action suits and mass

consolidation suits and scientific and technical evidence. It was ranked

48th in damages, judges’ impartiality, judges’ competence and

judges’ fairness, 47th in having and enforcing meaningful venue

requirements and 46th in discovery.

According to a study for the ILR by NERA Economic Consulting, the state’s lawsuit climate is costing Louisiana money and jobs.

The study found that in 2011, an improved legal environment would have saved businesses operating in the state up to $1.1

billion in tort costs and would have increased employment between 1.03 percent and 2.79 percent.

Louisiana’s consistently low ranking is indicating there’s a wider problem that needs to be fixed. In the face of budget cuts

and slow growth, Louisiana cannot afford to lose jobs and revenue because of an anti-business legal climate.

•••

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney,

Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.