Legal system abuse in Louisiana costs every one of its citizens more than $1,100 annually, according to the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA). The state’s litigation environment was also cited by the Insurance Research Council (IRC) when reporting how Louisiana is the least affordable U.S. state for both auto and homeowners insurance. And then there’s shadowed Third-Party Litigation Financing (TPLF) continuing to sneak its way into this costly conundrum, with virtually no one understanding who’s behind it and what ulterior motives they may have.
Louisiana’s state lawmakers passed a measure (Senate Bill 196) last year aimed at reducing legal system abuse and litigation costs, but the measure was vetoed by former Governor John Bel Edwards. The Litigation Financing Disclosure and Security Protection Act would have required plaintiffs to disclose whether their legal fees were being financed by a third-party with no obvious stake in the civil court case’s outcome, other than financial gain, or even worse foreign manipulation of America’s legal system.
Third-party litigation financing (TPLF), a multi-billion-dollar asset class which provides the financial resources for plaintiffs to file lawsuits, is growing exponentially because the U.S. legal system has increasingly become a place to secure huge paydays. Much like other shadowed banking tactics, financiers prefer to stay anonymous to avert regulatory scrutiny. However, beyond the financial gains, evidence is pointing toward foreign, even tax-free sovereign investments footing the bills.
Louisiana’s own U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) is keenly aware of the potentially problematic foreign investment issues of TPLF, introducing federal legislation weeks before his recent election and being handed the leadership gavel. If passed into law, The Protecting Our Courts from Foreign Manipulation Act would stop foreign entities and governments from financing litigation in U.S. courts and shine a light on a shadowy part of this nation’s legal system. Similar legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate and co-authored by another Louisianan, Senator John Kennedy (R-LA).
Much as Louisiana’s federal elected officials are working to address issues involving legal system abuse, such as TPLF, the State of Louisiana will benefit more directly by focusing on what’s happening in its own back yard. There is a simple formula to what combining increased climate risk with legal system abuse does – it creates a crisis in terms of affordability and availability of insurance.
The price of insurance is the effect of increased risk, not the cause. Louisiana’s high legal costs are driving up prices on virtually all goods and services for its citizens. Taking important steps toward litigation (and litigation financing) reform should be a top consideration in 2024.