Outgoing state Sen. Rick Gallot recently authored a guest column challenging a new survey released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform; the survey described Louisiana’s legal system as deeply troubled.
While I have great respect for Gallot, I must take exception to his analysis. He made a variety of arguments in an attempt to downplay the perspective that Louisiana’s unique laws and unbalanced courts encourage excessive litigation, but the fact is numerous other surveys have reached the same conclusion.
In recent years, the Center for Public Integrity, a national watchdog group, gave Louisiana an F for judicial accountability, while the American Tort Reform Association has singled out Louisiana as a “judicial hellhole” five years in a row. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal described Louisiana as “the tort bar’s new mecca for litigation,” and the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Legal Policy called us a “hotbed for new legal theories.”
What’s more is that most Louisiana voters tend to agree.
A poll conducted last year found 72 percent of Louisiana voters believe there are too many lawyers filing frivolous lawsuits in our state, and 76 percent said state laws need to be strengthened to limit lawsuit abuse.
Calls for lawsuit reform are coming from a wide spectrum of citizens from all walks of life who recognize that our state’s dysfunctional court system costs jobs, hinders economic growth and overwhelmingly benefits a small group of trial lawyers at the expense of everyone else.
Rather than attempting to argue that there is not a problem, we should be working to fix it.
That’s why I sponsored a bill in 2014 to put limits on state legal contracts that were routinely being handed out by the Louisiana attorney general to outside lawyers, many of whom were his top campaign contributors.
That bill, which was passed with bipartisan support in both chambers, set reasonable limits on attorneys’ fees and helped shed much-needed sunshine on the state’s process for handing out legal contracts.
These and other commonsense reforms will help to bring fairness and balance to our civil justice system.