Louisiana Scores Second Shot at Civil Justice Reforms

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ATRA encourages the Louisiana State Senate to pass and Gov. John Bel Edwards to sign H.B. 57 to help reduce auto insurance rates.

UPDATE JULY 13, 2020: H.B. 57, the Civil Justice Reform Act of 2020, was signed into law by Governor John Bel Edwards.

UPDATE JUNE 17, 2020: H.B. 57 was amended and reported favorably out of Senate Judiciary A Committee while H.B. 44 was sidelined.

ATRA was disappointed to learn Governor John Bel Edwards vetoed several important civil justice reforms. These include instruments containing a package of common sense reforms aimed at lowering auto insurance rates and reining in false or misleading lawyer advertising. However, we are encouraged to see the House respond by overwhelmingly passing additional reforms, H.B. 44 and H.B. 57.

H.B. 44, an amended version of the Omnibus Premium Reduction Act of 2020, is sponsored by Rep. Ray Garofalo (R) and passed on a 74-25 bipartisan vote. The bill aims to reduce auto insurance premium rates through a number of measures including lowering the jury trial threshold to $5,000 for personal injury cases, requiring a six-person jury in certain circumstances, repealing the seat belt gag order, and requiring a 10% rate reduction for both personal and auto insurance.

H.B. 57, the Civil Justice Reform Act of 2020, is sponsored by Rep. Clay Schexnayder (R) and passed on a 78-22 bipartisan vote. This bill includes reforms to allow all evidence of medical expenses to be shown to a judge or jury, repeals the seat belt gag order, and reduces the jury trial threshold to $10,000 for personal injury cases. 

Both bills passed the House yesterday and will be heard in Senate Judiciary Committee A tomorrow.

We are hopeful the Senate will follow suit and that Governor Edwards will take note of the overwhelming public support for these bills by signing them into law to reduce the economic impact of Louisiana’s second-highest-in-the-nation auto insurance premium rates.

Louisiana is a mainstay on the American Tort Reform Foundation’s annual “Judicial Hellholes” report, this year ranked as the No. 4 Judicial Hellhole in the nation. Passage of these bills would be a step toward Louisiana shaking its “Judicial Hellhole” moniker. 

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