Endless Coastal Litigation Creates Climate of Lawsuit Abuse in ‘Judicial Hellhole’ Louisiana

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Residents pay ‘tort tax’ of more than $1,010 amid all-time high inflation

Louisiana was included in the list of the worst “Judicial Hellholes®” in the nation today, according to a new report from the American Tort Reform Foundation (ATRF).

Research shows that Louisianans pay an annual “tort tax” of more than $1,010 per person while 46,302 jobs are lost each year due to excessive litigation. Further, if Louisiana enacted specific reforms targeting lawsuit abuse, the state would increase its gross product by over $4.7 billion.

ATRF cites ongoing coastal lawsuits targeting Louisiana’s energy industry as a main pain point behind the state’s inclusion in the annual report.

“Coastal litigation in Louisiana continues to drag on, closing in on nearly a decade of litigation with no end in sight,” American Tort Reform Association President Tiger Joyce said. “These lawsuits contribute to an overall climate of lawsuit abuse, drive up business costs, and drive out jobs for thousands of hard-working Louisianans.”

So far, most of the litigation activity in the lawsuits against energy companies filed by Louisiana parishes involves whether the cases should be heard in state or federal courts. This year, Federal Judge Martin Feldman of the Eastern District of Louisiana sent the bellwether Plaquemines Parish case to back to state court.

“This development is especially troublesome given that the defendants are defending actions taken under the direction of the federal government during World War II to support war efforts at the time,” Joyce said. “A state-level courtroom is not the proper venue for a situation directly involving the defendants and the federal government.”

ATRF also points to Louisiana’s high cost of auto insurance and says those high rates are partially fueled by fraud, including a series of staged car accidents aimed at scamming insurance companies, dubbed “Operation Sideswipe.”

An ongoing federal investigation into the years-long scheme has resulted in nearly 40 convictions thus far, not including seven additional indictments announced this year.

“While it’s unfortunate that Louisiana’s climate of lawsuit abuse allowed this scheme to go on for so long, we commend law enforcement officials for pursuing the wrongdoers,” Joyce said. “Hopefully these convictions will deter future individuals from engaging in similar behavior because they know that they will be met with significant civil and criminal penalties if they do.”

Other concerns in Louisiana include novel expansion of covid insurance coverage and transparency around judicial misconduct. The report does, however, point to a positive development with two bills signed this year aimed at curbing predatory legal services advertising.

The 21st edition of the annual report published by ATRF names eight Judicial Hellholes® in total:

  1. Georgia
  2. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas
  3. California
  4. New York
  5. Cook County, Illinois
  6. South Carolina Asbestos Litigation
  7. Louisiana
  8. St. Louis

This is the 13th year jurisdictions in Louisiana have been named Judicial Hellholes®.

Judicial Hellholes® are deemed the most unjust local courts and state civil justice systems in the country. The full report is available at JudicialHellholes.org.

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