Published: June 24, 2020
By: Catherine Hunt, LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE–The House passed a potential compromise bill Tuesday aimed at winning support from Gov. John Bel Edwards, who vetoed an earlier effort that sought to lower car insurance rates by limiting injury lawsuits.
The bill, by Rep. Richard Nelson, R-Mandeville, passed 82-9, with 21 Democrats voting for it. Nelson said he was trying to break the logjam on an issue that Republicans have billed as one of their biggest priorities during this legislative season.
In other action Tuesday, the House voted 82-17 to pass a bill that would prevent students and teachers who contracted infectious diseases, including COVID-19, from suing K-12 schools and colleges unless they can prove “grossly negligent or wanton or reckless misconduct.”
Earlier this month, Edwards vetoed a bill by Sen. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge that had addressed several components of Louisiana’s tort laws that Republicans say lead to high auto insurance rates.
Republicans appear to be short of the votes needed to override the veto, so they are trying to pass replacement legislation before the special session ends July 1.
Like Talbot’s bill, Nelson’s would extend the time that parties have to file suits and would limit the amount of recoverable medical expenses and insurance premium payments. Nelson’s bill also would lower the monetary amount an injury has to be worth to be decided by a jury rather than a judge.
But unlike Talbot’s bill, it would reduce the default number of jurors to six from 12 to try to lessen the burden on courts and jurors. Judges expressed concerns that Talbot’s bill would overwhelm courts with jury trials and that rural areas could have trouble finding enough jurors for personal injury cases.
Read more at Daily Advertiser