Orleans Parish Named a ‘Judicial Hellhole;’ AIA Says Report Shows Reform Needed

December 16, 2004

A report released recently by the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) identifies Orleans Parish, Louisiana, as one of the nation’s nine “judicial hellholes,” further emphasizing the need for passage of civil justice reform legislation in 2005, according to the American Insurance Association (AIA).

Judicial hellholes are those jurisdictions across the country where the law is not applied fairly to all parties. As defined by ATRA, judicial hellholes are places that have a disproportionately harmful impact on civil litigation.

“Judicial hellholes are a nightmare for businesses and consumers, but a dream come true for trial lawyers,” said John Marlow, AIA assistant vice president, Southwest region. “The deck is stacked in their favor in these destructive jurisdictions, through favorable rulings and verdicts that encourage frivolous lawsuits and unfair financial windfalls.”

The results of this report should serve as a wake-up call to Louisiana’s elected officials—states with jurisdictions designated as judicial hellholes often experience harmful economic side effects that are very damaging to businesses and consumers, including higher costs of goods and services, higher insurance premiums, reduced wages, loss of employment opportunities and reduced access to health care.

To that end, in 2005 AIA is advocating lowering of the jury trial threshold which at $50,000 is the highest in the country, the repeal of the direct action statute allowing insurers to be named as a party in civil actions against their insured (Louisiana is one of only two states in the nation) and the creation of a medical criteria standard for plaintiffs in asbestos related law suits to reduce the tremendous amount of time, money and resources drained from Louisiana’s economy to settle suits brought by people with no impairment.

“The good news for Louisiana is that out-of-balance tort systems can be fixed,” continued Marlow. “This was the case most recently in Mississippi; after years in the national spotlight as a judicial hellhole, the legislature this year passed comprehensive civil justice reform. Mississippi is now in the headlines for all the right reasons as insurers and other businesses bring additional jobs and investment to the state. AIA will be working with our civil justice coalition partners to bring this same success to Louisiana during next year’s legislative session.”

Link to ATRA Judicial Hellholes Report: http://www.atra.org/reports/hellholes/

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