CHARLESTON -- With Thanksgiving right around the corner, a state group is talking turkey.
West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse has identified several "sick birds" in the state's legal system, according to Executive Director Steve Cohen.
"While West Virginia families enjoy their holiday get-together this week and give thanks for what they have, they should be aware that because of some 'sick turkeys' in our legal system, West Virginians are being forced to get by with less than they may deserve," Cohen said, adding that these "sick birds" take away job opportunities and costs more than $3,000 for an average family.
"Lawsuit turkeys are beating the stuffing out of job opportunities for West Virginians. And given the amount of attention our state leaders are giving this important issue, a finely formed wishbone may be our only hope to fix the state's broken lawsuit system."
Cohen then listed some of what he called this year's biggest legal turkeys, noting that two of them, fitting for the holiday, are lawsuits over gravy.
"In September, a restaurant patron sued a Martinsburg Bob Evans for $5,000 over gravy he says spilled on his wrist," Cohen said. "Last month, a convenience store patron in Nitro sued over his 'burnt lip and tongue' when he bit into a 'stuffed biscuit with sausage gravy.'
"Personal injury lawyer D. Adrian Hoosier told the court his plaintiff-client was not warned 'that a cooling time must be observed before eating the biscuit.'"
Cohen said the lawsuit industry is "riding the gravy train harder than ever this Thanksgiving, leaving little comfort for employers who might otherwise create more West Virginia jobs."
Cohen also mentioned an October lawsuit filed in Cabell County against the Huntington YMCA.
"Those seeking to shed holiday pounds swimming laps will gobble over a lawsuit in which a student in an adult swim class contends the Y, and its instructor, are liable for her foot injury from a collision in the pool," Cohen said. "Her personal injury lawyer is demanding damages for 'great pain of body and mind.'"
Cohen also noted a recent Kanawha County lawsuit.
"But for those who see the holidays as a time to over-indulge, WV CALA points to another turkey in West Virginia courts filed by 'The Queen of Barstool Mountain,'" he said. "A St. Albans department store must fight a lawsuit from a woman who maintains she was hurt when she fell from a bar stool on display in the retail establishment."
And Cohen said he would be remiss to not mention this summer's $10 million "Hold The Cheese" lawsuit in Monongalia County in which a man says he nearly died from an allergic reaction to cheese found on his McDonald's Quarter Pounders after he told the restaurant workers of his allergy.
Cohen said recent studies have show that the average cost of our lawsuit system is more than $3,000 for a family of four, and employers rank West Virginia last as a place to bring jobs because of the state's legal system.
"Despite efforts to fix venue, joint and several liability and other state legal problem, our state leaders have failed to take meaningful action on these important issues," Cohen said.