WWL>Topics>>3-18 12:10pm Think Tank: Louisiana Libel Laws

3-18 12:10pm Think Tank: Louisiana Libel Laws

Mar 18, 2014|

Garland talks to Executive Director of Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch Melissa Landry about libel laws in Louisiana and the number of lawsuits in Louisiana and its effects on business.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

-- -- above wall soon will form and we chairman at least the Louisiana lawsuit abuse watch. Organization is number about the pupil. Legislative bills being filed in Baton Rouge to change our laws concerning -- suits and we have Melissa Linn group where this. Executive director -- general lawsuit abuse watch Melissa Block the show. Thanks so much for having -- -- Of we're good we're done shows when it came out to the show articles and reports from movies you know being ranked is the second worst. Drew different hole. Claimed excessive litigation costs Louisiana and leaves more than 9000 dollars a year -- so tell me about. Indeed unfortunately there for the long standing reputation for its. Poor legal climate we ranked number one in the country for having high. Jury trial threshold. Which we can talk a little bit more about later. That you reference. Back that the period of 2013 the American Tort Reform Association. At least there. And you'll withstand judicial hell holes that we were ranked number two essentially. It was the worst places in the country to be viewed. Some others statistics. -- that's where we are part of -- from the bottom we're ranked 47 off key states. For having and enforcing. Meaningful venue requirements. And potentially with that means inspectors that protections that. We allow opt for a shopping in Louisiana. Which is typically not not good for having an affair and predictable legal climate. We're also ranked number 48 and the country for judicial impartiality. Meaning there's the perception that there's. You know. There's significant concern about the ability to get a fair shake before from the Arctic elected judges. On and then overall -- in a court placed 49 catapult into states for overall political -- just had a West Virginia. And New Orleans -- also specifically been called out as one of the top ten worst political. On court jurisdictions in the country. So there's. Overwhelming. Data to support the nation's Louisiana. Has it as a somewhat challenging legal climate. And if there's any several writings on that bad news is that it seems. He -- there there are a lot makers. And and who. And certainly citizens who are are concerned about the data currently a classic. And you know that at the plate decent about it that's very encouraging to us. -- Part of -- attempt who's going to be to increased citizens' access in input on our -- of Jose going to be. Absolutely that this settled in working with a very broad coalition of political reform and business groups on including a group of the coalition's per common sense. I'm certainly ability CNET to see this as an industry. And off I'd be which represented -- -- small businesses in many many others. Is this broad coalition is working together to support package I'm very targeted built that seek to do three specific -- since. First which you just mentioned mr. really increases access and support the legal system and we would like to beat that. By lowering. Louisiana's. Jury trial threshold that is such an injury that issue. One that is is very unique totally CNET that citizens believe that they have an automatic right to a child before a jury of their peers. But that's actually not not always true it's certainly cherry wood in and criminal cases that successfully connect content guarantees. Since since that -- Big -- -- -- there are 90%. 90% of all defendants in this country. Never go to trial bigger as a plea bargaining with whom would have much of accessed at trial and more. While that bet that there may be cheap but they're. Forced a plea bargain on the estate. Mean that's that's debatable. Out really well at that it's not on this topic. I would people who understand that at that point. That well. I suppose there's the difference between having the right and access to act right. In Louisiana. As it relates to civil jury trials. You can't even access that right for claims that are filed under 50000 dollars. Louisiana has the largest that -- -- history -- threshold in the country and that's by by far. 36 states around the country have no threshold for civil jury trial at all. And among the fortunes states that do what we've seen it special is by far higher and the country. I think 8000 dollars police unit threshold is roughly 28 times more than national average. And so. The practical impact of this unique law is that many citizens are being denied their fundamental right to the civil jury trial and Louisiana. We did -- study. On the number of lost its outburst history trial. And found that less than 2% of all civil lawsuit. It will ultimately result in a jury trial. That's a number that has been definitely. Declining over the last five years and I would suggest you that's a very healthy trend for for those -- are seeking justice for mark currently the system. Britain and we're not I grew up there there was a lot of froze to the courts as some legal system in particular charges. And a couple of recent shows -- -- on the BP agreement on the Lopes bill -- signed an agreement to end and -- -- -- numerous times that they -- of the agreement and they agreed with that they signed on to. And then went back to the fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and said this is wrong and should never been done. This is crooked etc. And -- that court initially. Branded doing that -- two to go back into a number of different things. And noticeable as happened when you have a legal agreement they said well the fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is a conservative. Court. And that's India. Information you sent me the ball into the problem with the lawsuits. Or judge shopping right looking for judges that. Will go along with the well. Well aren't are gonna miss read that. Well you know we we as I mentioned earlier we hit it there at the perception that on Louisiana has very lax. Laws whenever it comes to. That you requirements and what that means is we. Apparently agriculture and we've seen and that's sort of allow. Lost it's to be filed in. Jurisdictions that may be most beneficial to his -- fine but do not -- it's sort of allowing them to just sort of shop around. For at church -- -- -- venue on that they perceived to be favorable to their case. That's a practice that. Discouraged. You know courts around the country and on one of the bills that's part of our package this session. Seeks to establish proper venue and exposure cases and one of the things in specific in the area of asbestos litigation what we see. A lot of case a lot of lawsuits are filed in in Orleans parish. Because of the perception that the favorable venue op for plane apps and the problem with that. Is that it. It tends to over -- that the court system and actually make it more difficult you know 44 for -- to have their effort in court that. Also protested significant -- judicial resources. -- will hold hold that thought got to -- grip or break currently. A welcome back to regular world -- -- just for media have been -- naive. I've. I had no idea that bridge each particular news. For the one who's can figure ways and ruled your way Ian is conservative or liberal. -- parchment real education and I would submit. That adds to who do you trust at this point. We're thinking about so lawsuit reform in the legislature for Louisiana. Coming right back -- taken here called we've got the expert with this -- -- -- seventy 153 yeah for Europe -- get -- laws food warm in this state legislature number of bills proposed -- Closing loopholes. And make the public more aware of creed transparency. And do talk about -- -- mullah -- rejected director -- you know lawsuit abuse watch. I'm Melissa -- was wondered. The expenses and if there is excessive wall's -- more accessible suits and -- sitting in -- state. Automobile insurance is not affected. Absolutely. You may have -- underground but we have some of that we have the highest automobile insurance rates in the country and mean contributing factor can that is indeed. Litigation. And just to recruit and Larry is it a point and we were discussing before the break. I apparently I don't -- paint our our believe unity history with too broad -- brush here. And certainly not suggesting that all all of our judges act with impartiality. Are perhaps -- that the majority of them do I actually you know have a lot of confidence in the vast majority of our judges to Louisiana but. It's certainly there are there are you know bad apples and assist. And I agree it's about everybody but I was referring to your paragraph of that reads. Encourages and cultural venue shopping. -- king Al georgians. And committee. The very fact that we can do that of course not everybody -- that way but it it's a surprise me and I think it's surprise the most people listening. Just didn't have the knowledge and she could do -- brawler and a -- and bring it up by it. That we agree on that point I just wanted to I just wanted to to say that to do in all fairness to -- that the vast majority of our. Hardware can two judges out there and but that's. Happily with regard to. -- automobile. Insurance and and how it relates to litigation in Louisiana. Indeed. We we down. Include a bit about the first time that Louisiana has the right that's happening. -- highest auto insurance and the country this is a trend where we and -- and number one for Q. Over the last decade and so. Actually what we are hoping to accomplish by lowering victory -- rational increasing citizen access to. His civil jury trials and Louisiana. -- you know we we hope that that would have -- some impacts on all the way that police -- perceived. As it relates to you know when -- insurance companies are calculating. Rates. Mean in Athens as -- stands right now -- because -- threshold is. Exponentially higher and so many other states essentially make that stand out like a fourth bomb went in -- -- calculating rates. And that combined to or are very excessively high church professional combined with the fact that. We tend to be more litigious state. Those two factors -- contributes significantly -- the fact that we pay. Not that much more for auto insurance and and they do around the country. -- we hope we hope that by lowering that the jury trial threshold that happened some impact on. And on improving rates for. And and I believe there is going to be your contingency that's gonna fight your legislation. What does the opposition. To him to -- -- wander through their main arguments as to why they shouldn't be done or are they gonna say. That this -- poor people out from being able to respond to injustice. I've not heard that that argument in in relation QQ our effort at the killer that your top social before. Did that Tressel spent in place since. No I don't I just Schmidt the overall share. Changing -- I'll vote. How -- you or why you would file lawsuits from Louisiana what's your argument against -- -- doing it and give me a couple of examples and what would you respond. -- We can debate would have been a position on that you're their argument some. Thoughts about an expert on. I do I don't assume when he lost to abuse why. Aren't the only. Obama played -- -- -- by her we wouldn't talk about that out of somebody else. -- -- ticket I'll give you a couple -- a couple of people let me. -- on our specific and built -- lower at victory trump national what we've heard in terms of the opposition that folks it would it would like to maintain the status out. You know we we've heard that if we lower victory trump national but it kinda I -- -- detach it it's gonna overburdened court and then they won't be able to have. -- it will be able to have it will be advocate jurors then. And they will be able to you know maintain that court dockets. They they just will be able to maintain the flow of military trial and you know that account report -- that argument is that there are. You know 36 others around the country who had your rational men at all whatsoever. In they're able to appropriately run their dockets and court. -- and they are not overburdened with which have military trials by march on. What I would also -- to that. Is that. You know in terms of -- -- You know Louisiana. Has more than double on national median number of judges per cap but. And you'll have been talking about the number of judges and and judicial caseload in in in New Orleans particular. That that era a government -- -- has been leading the charge to reduce the number of changes in pairs. If you look at the numbers across the state Louisiana has five point eight judges for every. 100000. People in this state whereas. If you look at some of our our neighbors that have similar population Alabama has three judges. I'm per 100000 compact has one point 700000. South Carolina has 100000. All these states have the close this thing populations Lee camp but they also have. Are lower jury trapped in jury -- threshold that we deal. So. Did the suggestion that if -- that threshold that for Burton our judges its entire report court that the data just aren't support that argument. I was and -- say you know that that threshold as it currently is was put into place. Back in 1993. Signed into law by its former governor -- went at -- legislation that was enacted arching it to pass and that. Believe in -- radiation. Which. Has an operating under new -- now but. You know we we have. Learned to live under this threshold for you know from more than twenty years and as over time we have seen acts of terror courts become more restrictive and more power in the hands of our State's elected judges. And that's that's an unhealthy trend. We we'd like tolerance threshold. Increased it to access terror courts we believe that you know it access and it is. Absolutely necessary to preserve and maintain the integrity of our court. Or proposes better and were -- into about. Some changes in the would be lawsuits were filed in the state -- for the legislature and birds builds. Welcome back -- and have got a couple more minutes. And about the use to prohibit contingency fee lawyers but the state attorney -- We'll be right back a bit of the LB you'd celebrity who had three finger above Wall -- and reform and Asia and and that's when things are going to be trying in the legislature. Loans -- some low low -- make it more transparent. Change from the processes and sells. -- -- Solyndra -- this executive director whose lawsuit abuse watch. -- -- -- -- -- I think so concerned. About the abuse surprise habit contingency. Fees to lawyers bug has stated -- Jones office or redirect for a. Indeed. There'd be used -- private contented TP lord. And -- attorney general's office has increased significantly. In in recent years. And -- firm. Folks who are not lord I'm actually not a lawyer but to get some background that. At times. They -- attorney general's office will contract out with outside private. Council on -- represent the states. In legal matters and in. You know presumably that's what happened because they don't passing and how that can handle cases. Or they would contract out with -- have some particular. -- expertise. And an area of litigation. Traditionally. That has been done on by paying the outside lawyers on an hourly basis. The beat the other way to -- that is to pay these borrowers a contingency fee award which means that there. There -- their pay is contingent. Upon how you know how much they're they're able to secure you know from their lawsuit for the states. Now it deep deep dish trend as a unit increasing use of content to be -- I think any general's office is. Is troubling. Because there's a long staining Louisiana's Supreme Court decision which clearly. Dictates that future in general has has no authority to engage in the text contracts. And the the second part of it is that. You know gamers investigations and public records request. Conducted and 2013 revealed that. Many of the kind of a contract to deter attorneys representing. The AG's office our political contributor. The worst elected without the benefit of any kind of open bid process so. It that -- That in these folks are are involved you know had been. Painted lucrative contracts represented represented state not because of their knowledge or expertise but because of their political connections. That they're not maybe being the case but that is certainly. How it looks from the outside and that is cents. You know that it's a great concern. And and should be -- citizens and taxpayers of this state. I should build his but I don't -- -- consumer law student loan company I mean -- -- -- description of it is in the words but. I didn't know there was such that it. Indeed there it if you if you think that late night you've probably seen on TV. Advertising that. Talked about getting you know. Pat cash per year for a lawsuit. Essentially that the industry allow. The plaintiff who was involved lawsuit and weeding. I'd judgment or settlement. To sell part of their lawsuit claims to a third party and they're. For an upfront cash payment let's say you were involved in automobile accident here out of work. Your lawyer tells you that -- cases probably you know might be -- Let's say 20000 dollar Steve Hall. It is it's 1800 number you get on the Internet and they offer you. You know a 5000 dollar plan. But found on that sound luckily. But that -- dabble is in the deep counts. This -- concede that lost -- lending industry. Is totally on regulated and police right now. And because that is. Are out of state lenders -- aren't regulated there's no limit at all. To that agencies and sky high interest rates to take charge times. Interest rates can reach its -- 150%. Gain. To put that in perspective an average annual percentage rate credit card which is astronomical and of itself. Up thirteen point 3%. So what what happens is better for time and the payback on the lot to learn can actually exceed the amount of the award -- but are. Do you. You know whatever their their philosophy as -- Sometimes they end up upside down actually telling the Lander which actually settled. There was. That New York Times did extensive investigative theories on a -- -- industry. And highlighted. -- several individuals. One out of that highlighted in the story was involved in a car accident he -- and 1500. Dollars from you know a -- -- lender. Two years later he got it happening 5000 dollar settlement. They had to pay. More than 36000 dollars in back to his splinter. That I was more than half of his recovery and more than three times out here originally are. So. This is this true in other states too and have not hardly. It absolutely is and it is the reason the reason why. It's that the industry is is partly regulated. Is because a lot to -- Have have worked very hard to avoid state regulations and caps on interest rates and licensing apartments they describe their learns as investment. And the big claim that they're not want to that they don't fall under. You know and Kaymer. Credit law. But I mean we think that's -- -- postures argument. You know what we would try to take some some comments and actions to cap the interest rates that -- -- to lenders can charge in Louisiana. And subject these companies to license requirements under -- -- consumer credit law. We are very -- laws in place that regulate. Bricks and mortar lost to lenders are states. But that the legislation that we're supporting recessions. Will apply the law evenly to out of state lenders said that. All companies operating in the league in our time by the same rules and and consumers are protected whether they decide to walk into the building -- the -- Are they initiate one of these -- ever over the Internet. It's it's very similar Q the predatory lending happens you know with with with payday on except for its work. Because. Jail under at least tapped in Louisiana and an exorbitant rates but at least there's somewhat regulated in -- This industries it's currently operating completely unchecked. -- Melissa. Of these builds. Were the -- through the legislature -- into all of story of preacher at the time very much. Thank you so much -- I appreciate the time. You have a good day. Melissa lent her executive director -- don't lawsuit abuse watch.