Hey, Louisiana: 'Create Jobs, Not Lawsuits'
It is no secret that Texas and Louisiana are very different states. They love barbecue. We love gumbo. They are known for big belt buckles. We're known for white shrimp boots. And on Sundays, they root for the Cowboys, while we cheer for the Saints.
But it is not just our unique cultures that make us so different. When it comes to the very important issue of legal reform, we are worlds apart. Despite the fact that residents in both Louisiana and Texas share the common goals of creating jobs and cutting down on lawsuit abuse, we have chosen remarkable different paths to address these issues.
While lawsuit reform has played a key role in Texas' economic boom, Louisiana has failed to pass such reforms and continues to struggle with a weak economy and a huge budget deficit as a result.
It is hard to imagine, but it was not long ago when Texas was known as the "courthouse to the world" and the "wild west of lawsuit abuse." That all began to change in 1990 when a grass-roots movement started to fight lawsuit abuse, and now the Texas civil justice system has become a national model for legal reform, and the Lone Star State has become a jobs machine.
A study conducted by the nationally recognized economist Ray Perryman shows lawsuit reforms enacted in Texas over the last two decades have generated 499,000 new, permanent jobs in the Lone Star State. Meanwhile, an economic report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform estimates Louisiana's poor legal climate costs the state more than 50,000 new jobs every year.
It is clear that economic opportunities in Texas are much easier to come by because employers there spend less time in court and more time creating jobs. That's a trend we need to bring right here to Louisiana.
Every October, Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch joins legal reform groups from across the country to promote and encourage a national dialogue about the devastating impact of frivolous lawsuits on our courts and our economy.
Though "Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week," which is Oct. 1-5, we work to educate citizens about the tremendous economic and social cost we all pay as a result of those who try to game our legal system for their own personal profit.
This year, Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week comes at a critical time for Louisiana, as study after study continues to rank our state as one of the worst in the nation for legal fairness. Clearly, we can no longer afford to have this dubious reputation and the consequence of lost jobs and economic opportunity that come along with it. We need only to look at our neighbors to the West to see that legal reform works.
Throughout Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week, LLAW is asking everyone to help us highlight the need for reform. Log on to www.LLAW.org to contact your lawmaker and sign the "Create Jobs, Not Lawsuits" petition today. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter, so log on now. With your help, we can start growing jobs and cutting lawsuits in Louisiana.
---Melissa Landry is executive director of Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch, a non-partisan citizen watchdog group dedicated to improving Louisiana's legal climate. Online: www.LLAW.org.