In the last edition of the Capitol Briefing I stated that the number one priority facing the state legislature this session is to pass common sense Tort Reform legislation designed to lower personal and commercial automobile insurance rates. “Tort” Reform simply refers to changes in the civil justice system that aim to reduce the ability of plaintiffs to bring frivolous lawsuits against defendants and to ensure that monetary awards are commensurate with the damages sustained. Our broken legal system has tilted the scales of justice in favor of billboard trial lawyers whose unethical advertising methods have convinced scores of Louisianians that an automobile accident is the equivalent of winning the lottery.
As a result of our toxic legal environment, Louisiana has been named a “Judicial Hellhole” for 7 straight years and we currently have the second highest auto insurance rates in the nation. Hard-working lower and middle class families across the state have been among the hardest hit by the insurance crisis, with many families simply unable to afford the exorbitant automobile insurance premiums. The situation is even more desperate for small business owners such as logging contractors, farmers, and truckers who have no choice but to purchase commercial auto policies in a marketplace where most insurance companies have left the state or been forced to raise their rates due to the trial lawyers zeal for suing anyone with higher policy limits and deeper pockets.
Comprehensive tort reform measures are required to stop the precipitous climb of auto insurance rates and put money back into the pockets of Louisiana families. I will be supporting legislation to decrease the civil jury trial threshold from $50,000.00 to $5,000.00, which will help prevent personal injury attorneys from shopping their cases for judges known to blatantly favor plaintiffs. Louisiana’s $50,000.00 jury trial threshold is clearly an outlier compared to the rest of the nation, with the next closest state having a $15,000.00 limit, and 36 states with a $0.00 threshold.
Another important piece of tort reform legislation will address the collateral source rule which essentially allows juries to see only the “sticker price” for medical costs instead of the actual cost incurred by the plaintiff. This typically results in a windfall for the trial lawyer and plaintiff, and is perhaps the biggest driver of our excessively high rates. Legal reform bills filed this session will also address “Direct Action”, or the trial lawyer’s ability to file a lawsuit against a defendant and their insurer, clearly resulting in higher damage awards.
I will also be supporting repeal of the preposterous “seatbelt gag rule” which prevents a jury from knowing if an injured plaintiff was wearing a seatbelt when the accident occurred. Believe it or not, each of the aforementioned measures were introduced last year and shot down by trial lawyers in the legislature and governor’s mansion. Although abuse of the legal system by trial lawyers is the leading cause of our high insurance rates, we must also hold insurance companies accountable and ensure that rates are based on verifiable actuarial data and not on arbitrarily determined standards.
I look forward to the spirited debates that will no doubt accompany our efforts to pass this common sense legislation our state urgently needs. Please know that my decisions as your state representative will always be made prayerfully with the best interests of the men and women of District 22 in mind.
District 22 State Representative
9 thoughts on “Capitol Briefing: Gabe Firment”
Hopefully you will also address issues in your own district and not ignore it. It’s easy to get elected and make promises but ignore the very people who got you there. You don’t even have an office.
Can you please let us which of the Judges in your district you think are unfair and blatantly favor plaintiffs?
Lawyers do not get to judge shop. When a lawsuit is filed the Clerk randomly assigns the case to a particular judge. The lawyer has no control over what Judge hears a particular case.
If you are going to reform our judicial system it would be helpful if you learned how it works first.
Like the old saying goes, you are entitled to your own opinions but you are not entitled to your own facts.
I don’t know if attorneys get to judge shop or not, but I do know there are some things going on that are down right questionable. In order not to give away the judge, or the person who was severely beaten by someone, I’m just giving some facts. First, the incident happened in November, 2019, and has still not gone to court, so said person still walks around in fear. Beater has committed other crimes, drug distribution, theft, and about 5 other charges, but somehow gets out on bond or has no bond, and has yet to go to trial on any charge, I have to ask what is going on here? The DA is ready. Why is there nothing being done? The defense attorney is a personal friend of judge, as are a lot of the attorneys in town. Does that play a part in any of this? Is this right? A person who is mean and abusive, drug dealer, thief, destroyer of property, person who ignores court documents, and never gets in trouble in any way, and has not gone to trial. I don’t want him walking our streets, hanging with younger people, selling or sharing drugs, and who knows what all else, and the judge does nothing. It’s past time this dude faces judgment and gets what is coming to him, if found guilty. It’s time for the judge and defense attorney to stop all these delay tactics. It is a shame that Natchitoches suffers at the hands of this Lady Justice!
Lowering the jury trial threshold is a terrible decision. The Judges, DA, Sheriff, and Clerk of Court Associations all oppose the bill. It will completely shut down the judicial system. Courts will be consumed with civil jury trials. Which means less time to try criminal cases.
It will also drastically increase the number of times a person is called for jury duty.
So remember to thank Rep. Firment when you or your employees get called for jury duty 2 or 3 times a year.
The worst part about all of Rep. Firment’s ideas is that every single insurance expert, including the people who are pushing these bills, have all admitted that there is no proof that they will reduce insurance rates.
So Rep. Firment wants us to give up our rights so big insurance companies can make more money. I wish Rep. Firment would focus on protecting the people that elected him and not focus on increasing insurance companies’ profits.
In 2018 State Farm’s profits were over $8 billion and it has a net worth of over $100 billion. Maybe if State Farm only made $7 billion this year our rates would go down.
And to top it off, he wants to repeal the Direct Action statute which would make insurance companies immune from lawsuits. This sure does not sound like it is in the best interest of the people he represents. It sounds like it is in the best interest of insurance companies.
Great work Gabe!! Keep it up… proud you are representing our District!!!
Yes common sense , I agree, LA needs this reform. I am hopeful, but very pessimistic of our legislature
passing this, and the Gov. signing it. We need to demand our legislators get this done, its the ONLY way
our insurance rates will go down.
Something Louisiana needs. Lawsuit abuse is rampant. I believe there are people in Natchitoches that actually try to get in accidents so they can make the one call that’s all. I am also in favor of not allowing lawyers to advertise on tv. Those commercials encourage lawsuits.
That is the absolute truth. My step-father was involved in an accident when he accidentally backed into a woman in a parking lot. She later sued him for more than the damage to her old car, but said she had neck injuries from his car hitting hers. The judge said he had to give her the money since my stepfather did back into her, but she was lying in wait for him to back out, and everyone knew it. I don’t really understand why the judge could not have just given her money to repair the damage to her car that was done that day since the rest was a setup. After the judge awarded her them money, he did inform her that she should never show her face in his court room again bringing in another scam case. I recently had a friend hit from the drivers side as a car pulled out from a street on the left, pulled into the turn lane, and stayed in his blind spot. He got ready to make his turn to the left, turned on his blinker, and promptly hit her car. What I would love to know is how these people learn where the blind spots are on cars? Thank goodness for the cars that have the backup device that shows you what’s back there and sounds off if you get too close. Maybe it will stop some of the crooks.
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