Sunday, April 27, 2008

Louisiana is only 49th …

At least we finished ahead of West Virginia:

Louisiana’s legal climate is ranked as the second worst in the country, according to Lawsuit Climate 2008: Ranking the States, the annual assessment of state liability systems conducted by Harris Interactive, a leading national market research firm, and released today by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR).

Louisiana ranked 49th out of 50 states in the study, down one spot from the previous year. In addition, New Orleans/Orleans Parish was named among the ten least fair and reasonable court systems in the country.

Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the state needs to “take a comprehensive look at fixing the broken lawsuit system,” pointing out that Louisiana has languished near the bottom of the legal climate rankings since ILR and Harris began conducting the state liability system study seven years ago.

A separate survey of Louisiana business owners found 89 percent believe frivolous lawsuits are a serious problem, 58 percent think the number of unfair lawsuits against businesses in Louisiana will increase over the next five years, and 69 percent want the Louisiana Legislature to enact new laws to help protect business from unfair and frivolous suits.

“The best thing Louisiana can do to attract business is to have a balanced legal system,” Donohue said. “An unfair legal system sucks the life out of a state’s economy. It slows business expansion, it kills jobs and it takes money out of consumers’ pockets.”

Donohue noted that the Louisiana Legislature is considering several reform measures, including junk science and asbestos litigation reforms.

Harris asked 957 senior attorneys to evaluate up to five states in which they were “very” or “somewhat familiar” with that state’s litigation environment. Survey respondents assigned each state a letter grade for each of 12 different factors affecting the states’ tort liability system, ranging from the overall treatment of tort and contract litigation to judges’ competence and impartiality. Harris computed an overall score for each state based on these evaluations, then compiled the scores into a ranking of the states.

The survey of 255 Louisiana business owners, 86 percent of them small businesses with fewer than 20 employees, was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies earlier this month. It has a margin of error of +/- 7 percent.


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