James Gill’s recent column entirely misses the point regarding the need to reform Louisiana’s legal climate. “Plaintiff” is most certainly not a dirty word. Obviously, when businesses and individuals are responsible for causing damage or injuries, they should be held accountable. The problem arises when litigation is motivated by greed rather than merit. And there is ample evidence to suggest we have more than our fair share of that in Louisiana — thus the need for reform.
Meritless lawsuits come at a tremendous cost to small businesses and individuals who find themselves on the receiving end and are forced to spend endless hours and resources defending against them. Moreover, they waste the resources of our legal system which could be devoted to considering legitimate claims.
Eliminating the excessive barrier to obtaining a jury trial in Louisiana could help discourage these questionable suits. Very simply, it will help level the playing field by giving individuals and small businesses the right to defend themselves before a jury of their peers — the same right that is enjoyed by citizens in 36 states across the country. As an Advocate editorial noted recently, “Louisiana should not be an outlier in this high barrier to civil jury trials.”
Reforming this 20-year-old misguided law would bring Louisiana back in line with the vast majority of states and help ensure that meritless litigation is properly filtered by an open and transparent court system. Only those who stand to benefit under the current system could possibly argue with that.
Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch