Via The News Star
It is no secret that owning a small business is hard. From changing health care laws to new federal taxes and regulations, there is no shortage of challenges facing small business owners these days — but excessive litigation shouldn’t be one of them.
Too often, small businesses in Louisiana, such as mine, are the targets of lawsuit abuse. Over the past decade, my small shop based in Monroe has been hit with more than 100 different lawsuits involving more than 3,600 plaintiffs. I’ve spent millions on legal fees defending my small business, and never once have we been found at fault. In fact, most of the lawsuits have been dismissed without merit. But the cloud of uncertainty that this excessive litigation has showered over my company, my employees and their families for more than 10 years has been devastating. It has been hard for us to grow, reinvest in our operations or hire new employees. All because a few enterprising young lawyers are out to make a buck, and we got caught in the middle.
I think that’s wrong, and a recent survey of small business owners across the state shows I am not alone. According to a statewide poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, 89 percent of business owners in Louisiana said frivolous lawsuits are a “serious problem.” Meanwhile, 94 percent of respondents said the threat of a lawsuit is a major factor when making business decisions, such as expanding, investing in new equipment or hiring a new employee.
The bottom line is Louisiana’s poor legal climate makes it harder for small businesses owners to survive and thrive. We need lawsuit reform that will help bring integrity and fairness back to our courts. Not just because it will help provide some level of predictability for businesses and help spur investments in our economy but because it is the right thing to do.
The purpose of our civil justice system is to provide an avenue of recourse for those who have been truly wronged. Not to enrich the pockets of some lawyers.
We must take steps to limit the number of frivolous lawsuits filed in Louisiana.