The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday slammed Louisiana’s lawsuit climate as the worst in the nation, calling into question the “integrity of its courts.”
In an issued statement, the national chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform suggested that most business leaders pay heed to lawsuit climate and said it would likely affect decisions on where to locate or expand.
“Louisiana’s lawsuit climate has hit rock bottom,” said Lisa A. Rickard, president of the ILR. “The state’s long history of litigation abuse and the questionable integrity of its courts hurt everyone by holding back more robust job growth and investment.”
But the U.S. Chamber’s announcement came on the same day that Louisiana Economic Development revealed that Area Development magazine has rated the state No. 5 among “Top States for Doing Business.”
“Lawsuit abuse is not the No. 1 concern” among businesses inquiring about locating in Louisiana, said Richard Carbo, spokesman for Gov. John Bel Edwards. He said workforce development and a stable tax climate are more important to prospective new businesses.
In making its rankings, Area Development surveys top site selection consultants, LED said.
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In the four previous surveys conducted by Harris Poll, Louisiana had ranked 49th for lawsuit climate. Those surveyed included 1,321 in-house general counsels, senior litigators and attorneys, and other senior executives at companies $100 million in revenues.
South Dakota was rated best for lawsuit climate. The bottom 10 were New Jersey, No. 41; Kentucky, No. 42; Alabama, No. 43; Mississippi, No. 44; West Virginia, No. 45; Florida, No. 46; California, No. 47; Illinois, No. 48; and Missouri, No. 49.
The national chamber cited as resources Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, Coalition for Common Sense and Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch.
For specific evidence about judicial integrity, Rickard cited a 2015 Baton Rouge Advocate article that said nine judges had been removed or suspended from the bench since 2000 for “severe violations of the judicial canons and many, many others have been sanctioned.”
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The survey respondents ranked Louisiana last in the country for impartiality, a chamber spokesman said.
“Litigation is a growing industry in Louisiana,” Melissa Landry, Lawsuit Abuse Watch executive director, said in an issued statement. She added that the state bears a perception that “it is difficult, if not impossible, for some to get a fair shake in our courts.”
“Until the governor and state lawmakers tackle these issues head on and enact meaningful legal reform, we will continue to be pegged as a judicial hellhole and new business and economic opportunities will continue to pass us by.”
“We are working every day to grow quality jobs for Louisiana residents,” Edwards said in an issued statement about the Area Development ranking. “Our success depends upon Louisiana and its regional and local partners creating and maintaining a healthy business climate.”
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