Lawsuit abuse, particularly in the form of the sweeping, government sponsored coastal lawsuits, is deep-sixing jobs and driving away economic opportunity for working families in Louisiana. With COVID-19 and the government’s economic shutdown leading to more than 315,000 Louisianans being unemployed, we simply must abandon this ill-fated lawsuit strategy.

Last year, long before COVID-19 and the resulting shutdown wreaked havoc on our economy, the Pelican Institute commissioned a study to explore the link between lawsuit abuse and Louisiana’s economic woes.

In the first two years after the lawsuits were filed, nearly 2,000 job losses were directly attributable to the impact of the litigation risk. Those job declines equated to more than $70 million in lost wages for Louisiana families. Additionally, our study found Louisiana’s economy has lost between $43 million and $113 million each year since the lawsuits were filed. These lawsuits have failed to provide anything more than lost jobs and revenue for Louisiana. It is obvious we need a new approach. which Senate Bill 359 provides.

So, what does SB359 do exactly? It provides a uniform, statewide approach to the coastal lawsuits. It also ensures that 100% of any funds recovered under Louisiana’s coastal management program will be spent directly on restoration and protection, as the Legislature intended.

These reforms are desperately needed.

These lawsuits aren’t a fight between a small state and “Big Oil.” In fact, the lawsuits target over 200 companies, the majority of which are small and independent operators. These are local, Louisiana entrepreneurs who provide more than 33,000 direct high-paying jobs and $3 billion in wages. With oil prices bottoming out and the state economic shutdown leaving companies in greater jeopardy than ever before, now is the time to put a stop to this unprecedented abuse of Louisiana’s coastal statute.

DANIEL ERSPAMER

Pelican Institute for Public Policy

New Orleans