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Tort reform alive again after flood authority lawsuit

When the Southeast Louisiana Flood Authority-East filed a massive lawsuit earlier this year against almost 100 oil and gas companies, the board members may not have considered the affect the suit would have on tort reform. However, the state Legislature will certainly be hearing more about tort reform in the coming legislative session. In fact, there is already a lot of talk about it.

According to reports, though, it really won't be much different than the most recent legislative sessions. The business groups fight against the plaintiff attorneys to see who can get more accomplished each year.

The businesses want to see more legislation aimed at capping damage thresholds and otherwise tightening restrictions in civil suits against businesses and corporations. The attorneys, though, want to make certain that any individual can have their day in court against big business.

The legislative session will be held in March and it's a sure bet that there will be significant lobbying by the oil and gas industry to limit so-called "legacy lawsuits." The hope by the oil and gas industry is that they can have some sort of legislation passed that will make the SLFPA-E's lawsuit void.

Currently, the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association has filed a lawsuit against the state's attorney general, saying he did not have the right to authorize the lawsuit. This came right on the heels of a report from the state Legislative Auditor that said there were questions with the lawsuit, such as with the contingency fee.

The details of any possible legislation have not been available and are, in fact, being kept secret for the time being. One state representative has been told that there will be many tort reform bills brought before the legislature with the goal of stopping the lawsuit.

While the goal of big business may be to stop the SLFPA-E's lawsuit, the goal of the lawsuit is to hold the oil and gas industry responsible for the injury and damage to the state's coastal areas. While there does not seem to be any rectification of this problem in the near future, the one thing that everyone involved in can agree on is that the environmental damage must be corrected.

Source: nola.com, "East Bank levee authority suit spurs renewed push for tort reform" Lauren McGaughy, Dec. 18, 2013

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