Cohen

CHARLESTON - While West Virginia families enjoy their holiday get-together this week, they are being warned to watch out for a band of sick turkeys on the loose.

West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (WV CALA) has identified several "sick birds" in the state's legal system.

"These turkeys are beating the stuffing out of job opportunities for West Virginians," said Steve Cohen, CALA's executive director. A finely formed wishbone may be our only hope to fix the state's broken lawsuit system."

The turkeys targeted by WV CALA this holiday are:

* The West Virginia Supreme Court ruling which made it possible for a man who lived, worked, and was injured on the job in Virginia to sue in West Virginia.

"The floodgates are now open in West Virginia for out-of-state personal injury-lawyer greed while we, who pay for our courts, will have to wait in line behind a swarm of litigation tourists," said Cohen.

* The personal injury lawyers who presented the court "medical evidence" from a purely fictitious doctor. A CALA search dog even went to his office, with a Huntington address which has not been on record for 50 years.

* Attorney General Darrell McGraw, who converted a $10 million lawsuit settlement into, what in effect is, a political slush fund. McGraw gave none of these funds to his plaintiffs in the case, while his campaign-contributor personal injury-lawyer pals reaped millions in legal fees from the deal.

* The ambulance-chasing personal injury lawyers who descended on Sago after the mining accident. Their immediate actions to shamelessly profit from the tragedy of these mining families and the grief in their local community even caught the attention of the Wall Street Journal.

* Those in the legal community who refused this year to crack down on egregious personal injury lawyer advertising that scares people into filing lawsuits even when they have not been injured.

CALA says these "turkeys" drive employers out of West Virginia creating jobs elsewhere. The 32,000-member group is calling for reform to protect the integrity of the state's legal system.

According to Cohen, CALA hopes it can "give thanks" to a new legislature that will:

* remedy the ruling that makes West Virginia magnet for out-of-state lawsuits

* keep junk science out of our courtrooms

* hold the attorney general accountable for his hiring of personal injury lawyers , so his seemingly backroom deals are blanched in the bright light of public scrutiny.

* rein in greedy personal injury lawyers who violate the Code of Professional Conduct and are using questionable advertising to frighten people into filing frivolous lawsuits.

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