Louisiana Governor Vetoes State Tort Reform Bill

New Law Would Have Helped Mitigate Unfair Jury Verdicts
Randy Guillot
" It’s a complete plaintiff bar narrative. It’s wrong,” Randy Guillot, president of New Orleans-based Triple G Express and a former ATA chairman, says of Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry's position. (House Committee on Natural Resources via YouTube)

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Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry has vetoed tort reform legislation touted by trucking leaders as a step toward stabilizing excessive insurance and legal costs that burden the state’s trucking industry and hinder its economic growth.

“We are deeply disappointed by the governor’s veto of HB 423,” said Renee Amar, executive director of the Louisiana Motor Transport Association, referencing the bill’s statehouse title. “Despite this setback, we remain committed to advocating for reforms that will reduce insurance expenses, promote fair legal practices and support the businesses that are vital to our state’s economy.”

The legislation specifically requires that an injured party in an accident collect only the amount of money the victim has been paid by an insurance company or Medicare, according to Randy Guillot, president of New Orleans-based Triple G Express, Inc. and a former chairman of American Trucking Associations.

Guillot said plaintiff attorneys send their clients to pre-selected medical providers, who then inflate the medical bills.

Renee Amar


“We urge action to resolve these pressing issues for the benefit of all Louisiana citizens and businesses,” Amar said.

Truckers in Louisiana — a state with a reputation for high insurance premiums and highways dotted with attorney billboards soliciting clients injured in accidents with trucks — welcomed the passage of the HB 423, also known as the Omnibus Tort Reform bill. Passed by the Legislature last year, the bill would have allowed trucking attorneys to introduce evidence of accident victims not wearing seat belts and included a provision that would limit certain medical bills from jury awards, known as “phantom damages.”

The bill also contained a provision that would cut down on a practice allowing plaintiff attorneys to “judge-shop,” and in the long run was expected to even help bring down insurance premiums.

Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry


However, in a June 19 news conference on the bill, Landry said supporters of the legislation were “parroting the talking heads of the insurance industry and the defense lawyers in the Legislature.”

Even after passage of the bill, LMTA said its members have continued to “fight an uphill battle with the full force of the trial bar in effect.”

“Every single Louisiana citizen paid a hidden ‘tort tax’ of nearly $1,000 and more than 40,500 jobs were lost in the state last year because of abuses of our legal system. To add insult to injury, Louisiana has been labeled a ‘Judicial Hellhole,’ one of the worst civil justice climates in the U.S., for 14 years running,” the group added, referencing a list maintained by the American Tort Reform Foundation.

Guillot said, “I’m extremely disappointed — not only in the veto, but in the fact that the governor vetoed it. It is a direct slap in the face of all business in Louisiana, including — front-and-center — the trucking industry. It is a one-sided opinion, and absolutely conflicts his known statements. It’s a complete plaintiff bar narrative. It’s wrong.”

Guillot said Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Tim Temple and others have called for a special session of the state Legislature to attempt to reverse Landry’s veto. Amar is concerned there may not be sufficient votes for a special session, but is not giving up the fight.

“LMTA is gearing up to go for it in the next session of the Legislature next year,” she said. “We will bring a lot better legislation. We live to fight another day.”

Meantime, Amar lamented the situation truckers face in the state.


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“We’re in an unsustainable environment in the state of Louisiana,” she said. “It feels hostile.” In particular, she said there are only two insurance companies writing quotes for carriers in the state — and just one for agricultural haulers.

“And the quotes are not even reasonable,” she said. “Obviously, the insurance carriers have left this state because it’s a very inhospitable. But the trial lawyers never leave, and they never go out of business. It just feels like we’re at war.”

Guillot added of Landry, “It is further proof that a conservative Republican who is an attorney does not always have the opinions of a conservative politician. We’ve had face-to-face personal meetings with him. He is unwilling to listen to our point of view. He is locked into the plaintiff bar, which is totally against businesses. It is my opinion that is the No. 1 problem with economic development in Louisiana is our litigious society and state government.”

David Bauer


David Bauer, ATA vice president of state and tax policy, echoed those sentiments.

“It is unfortunate that Gov. Landry seems to have more in agreement with the trial bar in Louisiana than the hardworking family-owned and small businesses in his state. With his veto of bipartisan legislation that would continue to build on the progress we have made in Louisiana and other states in our lawsuit abuse campaign, he has decided to ally with those who continue to use the judicial system to target trucking for big paydays.”

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