Acadiana Business

La. slammed for lawsuit climate

by Walter Pierce

But a national trial lawyers group calls the U.S. Chamber-sponsored study hyperbolic bull. The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform's latest ranking of states' lawsuit climate has Louisiana once again near the bottom, ranking 49th for the third straight year - one slot behind Mississippi. West Virginia ranks last while Delaware, Nebraska and Wyoming occupy the top three spots.

The national survey polled business attorneys and executives at companies with annual revenues of at least $100 million on a number of criteria including the number of personal injury suits filed, the standards for certifying class-action lawsuits, the fairness of juries and competence of judges. The U.S. Chamber-sponsored survey should be taken with a grain of salt: the pro-business organization has long been an advocate of so-called tort reform, an issue a national trial lawyers organization says is blown far out of proportion.

In "Debunking the Myths," the American Association for Justice, known until recently as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, goes point-by-point after what it claims are exaggerations and mischaracterizations about lawsuit abuse propagated by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other pro-business, pro-tort-reform groups.

Among the AAJ's targets are claims that lawsuits are skyrocketing, insurance rates and health care costs are rising as a result and that lawsuits hurt small business and drive big companies out of business.

Read the AAJ's "Debunking the Myths" here.

To read the USCILR's ranking of states' legal climates, click here.

Here is some more criticism of the survey.