One week from Monday, the legislative session begins in Baton Rouge. There are a lot of issues to tackle and even more bill proposals. Among the many, cutting costs during civil-jury trials is the focus for one St. Martin Parish lawmaker, Rep. Mike Huval, District 46.
Civil lawsuits can often be a long, drawn-out process. Hundreds, even thousands of dollars later, a case can go back to trial until a settlement is reached, which requires attorneys, a judge, and even a jury. But, Huval, is proposing a new bill to speed up that process for certain cases.
"The expedited jury bill is a bill we're hoping reduces the court backlog and helps advance things to get a quicker end to a trial," said Huval.
HB No. 321 entails a few cost-cutting measures he thinks would be a more efficient process in civil-jury trials.
"First of all, instead of 10 to 12 in the jury, you only have six," said Huval. "Instead of having three or four trials, you only have one."
Both the plaintiff and defendant's attorneys must agree to the expedited process, which would also take appeals off the table.
Huval also hopes this bill could help bring down the costs for consumers in industries like car insurance, where high premiums help cover instances that do end up in court. And that's where the idea began. As an insurance company owner, he started studying why Louisiana insurance rates were so high. He says he found civil suit costs played a part. He's hoping this session, legislators will see the road ahead.
"I'm looking forward to working on the bill. Hopefully it comes to pass and hopefully, a few years from now, we'll realize as Louisiana residents, this will show the cost of insurance is going down, as well as a number of lawsuits going down in our state," said Huval.
If the bill does get passed this legislative session, it could be implemented by January 2014.