Asbestos litigation is the longest-running mass tort in U.S. history – so large that asbestos lawsuits have forced almost 100 companies into bankruptcy. And when these companies go bust, it has ripple effects across the economy: employees are laid off, retirees no longer receive pensions, and shareholders are wiped out.
For years, Louisiana has allowed asbestos lawsuits to be filed in any jurisdiction, regardless of where the alleged exposure occurred. This has resulted in “venue shopping,” where cases are purposefully filed in jurisdictions with a history of more favorable judgments for plaintiffs. And wouldn’t you know it, the courts considered to be more favorable to plaintiffs become overwhelmed with meritless cases from plaintiffs looking to cash in. Not only does this make a mockery of our justice system, but it delays hearings for those who are truly impaired and strains judicial resources. No wonder the American Tort Reform Association has singled out “judicial hellholes” in Louisiana.
But that can change. Louisiana legislators are set to vote on House Bill 482 next week. This bill, written by Rep. Rob Shadoin, would combat “venue shopping” by setting clear court or venue standards in certain lawsuits, such as asbestos, silica, or other latent disease exposure cases.
Louisiana can look to the Lone Star State as example of this type of reform working. Texas continues to shine as a model for meaningful legal reform, and requiring lawsuits to be filed in a venue that corresponds with the accusation just makes sense. To read more about venue reform and other reforms that Texas has championed, click here.