Last year, Louisiana legislators pushed for one of the State’s biggest tort reform packages since the 1990s in hopes of lowering automobile insurance rates and encouraging out of court settlements. The Civil Justice Reform Act of 2020 (CJRA) was signed into law on July 13, 2020 and became effective on January 1, 2021. These changes are not retroactive and will only apply to any cause of action arising on or after January 1, 2021. The most significant changes include:
Amount in Controversy for Jury Trials. For many decades, jury trials were only available in cases where the amount in controversy exceeded $50,000. In the district court, the threshold has been reduced to $10,000, exclusive of interest and costs. The party seeking a trial by jury is required to post a $5,000 jury bond within 60 days of filing a jury demand. If a party files a jury demand but fails to timely post the bond, then right to a jury is waived. Although the CJRA did not change the jurisdictional limits of city or parish courts, it allows a defendant to seek a transfer to the district court to obtain the right to a trial by jury when the amount in controversy is more than $10,000 and the transfer is made timely.