Trade groups praise legislature and governor for enacting common-sense reforms
Arlington, Va. – Today, the American Trucking Associations and the Louisiana Motor Transport Association are praising Governor John Bel Edwards for announcing he will sign into law the Civil Justice Reform Act of 2020, which cleared the Louisiana State Legislature last night in its final day of special session.
The trucking industry has called tort reform its number one priority at the federal and state levels, as a pervasive climate of lawsuit abuse has sent insurance rates skyrocketing, forcing motor carriers out of business and hampering the industry’s ability to safely and efficiently move the economy’s freight.
“On behalf of our industry and the trucking community throughout Louisiana, I commend the legislature and Governor Edwards for their leadership on this issue,” said Randy Guillot, ATA Chairman and president of Triple G Express and Southeastern Motor Freight, two motor carriers based in Jefferson, Louisiana. “This bill takes concrete steps to restore balance and fairness to the system, helping stabilize insurance markets for truckers and the motoring public alike. By gaming the system for their own financial gain, the plaintiffs' bar has been destroying the business climate here and increasing the cost of living for everyone across our state.”
On February 19, 2020, Guillot, ATA President and CEO Chris Spear and LMTA met with Governor Edwards at the governor’s mansion in Baton Rouge to discuss the severe impact that lawsuit abuse is having on the industry, destroying good-paying trucking jobs and hampering its ability to invest in new safety technology. The out-of-control litigious environment has created fertile ground for criminal insurance fraud rings, most notably in Louisiana, as well as an exponential rise in nuclear verdicts across the country, as documented in a new study.
“For years, the plaintiffs’ bar has perverted the civil litigation system into a profit center to line their own pockets,” said Spear. “This pursuit of ‘jackpot justice’ comes with a heavy price felt far and wide, punishing anyone who drives a car as well as every single motor carrier – including those with excellent safety records. Governor Edwards deserves a lot of credit for taking this issue on and seeing it through to completion, working in good faith with the legislature and all stakeholders to find common ground and reach an agreeable, compromise solution.”
“We’ve been on the forefront of this issue from the early stages—and even sent a truck convoy to the State Capitol to let our legislators know how important this is to the livelihood of trucking in Louisiana,” said David Newman, president of LMTA and owner of Newman Transport LLC, based out Pearl River, Louisiana. “Skyrocketing insurance rates are putting a lot of trucking companies out of business, and many more are ready to close their doors. This bill brings much needed relief, and I would like to thank all our members who spent time advocating for it at the Capitol, the legislators who supported it, and Governor Edwards for signing it.”
Among other provisions, the Civil Justice Reform Act will:
- Decrease the threshold to request a jury trial from $50,000 to $10,000. The plaintiffs’ bar relied on the higher threshold to “judge shop” – allowing them to pick venues they know most likely to produce their desired outcome.
- Repeal the “seat belt gag rule,” which prevented the defense from introducing evidence that the plaintiff was not wearing a seatbelt and contributed to their own injuries.
- Bring medical damages more in line with what the plaintiff actually paid—rather than what was billed.
- Remove evidentiary restriction on the defense that the plaintiff received compensation for damages from a source other than defendant, such as an insurance payout.