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Monday, February 07, 2011

What do taxpayers in New Jersey and Louisiana have in common?

We’re paying for lawsuits. Lots of them. 

The Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch (LLAW) released a study which found that eight of the state’s municipalities spent a collective $52 million fighting lawsuits between 2006 and 2009.  $37 million was spent in the form of judgments and settlements; $14.9 went to outside counsel. 

That’s $52 million.  In eight towns.  In just three years!

You may recall a Lawsuit Reform Watch post from April 2010, in which the cash-strapped city of Irvington, New Jersey, faced the loss of 20 police officers and 10 firefighters to help close a $5 million budget shortfall.  This announcement from Mayor Wayne Smith came days before an appellate court rejected the city’s attempt to have its insurance company cover a $5 million personal injury suit. 

Melissa Landry, executive director of LLAW, acknowledged that some lawsuits are legitimate, but that some “are filed purely in search of enrichment from the lawsuit lottery.  At a time when Louisiana, like most other states, are struggling, the public’s financial resources could have made an impact elsewhere: preserving the jobs of law enforcement personnel. 

The report, “Drinking from the Taxpayer Trough” can be found here.     

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