Lawsuit reform to be examined in 2014 legislative session

Published: Feb. 12, 2014 at 11:13 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) have issued its 2014 wish list for the upcoming legislative session. Tort reform, as they term it, will be at the top of their list when the session begins March 10t, 2014.

"As we're coming out of the national recession and there is some global investment coming off the sideline they are looking at Louisiana, says Stephen Waguespack of LABI. "They see affordable energy they are seeing access to roadways and waterways and things like that, but they are also looking at our legal climate and it's making them nervous."

Part of the problem, according to Waguespack, is the practice of Jury Trial Threshold. State law says if a lawsuit claim is not worth a certain amount then you are not allowed a jury trial. "In the state of Louisiana you have to be sued for $50,000 in order to get a jury trial. In 49 other states it's not nearly that high. In most states its zero in one state its $15,000. Everyone else is much lower. What that does is creates a climate that encourages frivolous lawsuits. Those lawsuits turn into a silent job killer, a tort tax, on everything we pay for goods and services and the insurance we have on our cars," says Waguespack.

But opponents say lowering the Threshold will clog the courts. "It would require more resources from the court," says Robert Kleinpeter Past President of Louisiana Association for Justice. "You would have more trials. They would take longer. You would have to have more court rooms and more people hearing cases."

The 85 day session starts March 10th.

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