Cohen

By STEVEN COHEN

CHARLESTON -- Having just celebrated the annual Grammy Award hoopla, West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse is proposing its own choices to the National Academy of Recording Artists for the best in musical performance, based on the West Virginia experience.

Because, let's face it, music so aptly reflects West Virginia's challenges on the legal landscape. For too long West Virginia families have been singing the blues about lost jobs from a broken lawsuit system.

This year's nominations from WV CALA:

* Record of the Year: Foo Fighter's "The Pretender" – bold lyrics about legislative leadership crafting venue legislation that in reality does nothing to prevent West Virginia courts from being a dumping ground for personal injury lawyers and their out-of-state plaintiffs.

* Pop Vocal Album: Maroon 5's "Makes Me Wonder" – a ponderous serenade about the many reasons why, rather than fixing its broken lawsuit system that discourages job growth in our state, West Virginia chose instead to drop its "Open for Business" slogan.

* Album of the Year: Vince Gill (with guest vocalist Sheryl Crow) "What You Give Away" – lively rendition about how, in the midst of our weak job climate, West Virginia courts claimed $1 billion in verdicts from three of the state's largest employers.

* Song of the Year: Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" - a daring composition about Justice Larry Starcher's ethically-lame scheme to hear a case involving an employer he called "stupid" and "a clown."

* Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals: a tie this year between Daughtry's "It's Not Over" and Nickleback's "If Everyone Cared." Both play on the theme that the public can take action to bring about legal reform and keep West Virginia families from leaving for jobs elsewhere.

Also, to celebrate 50 years of GRAMMY awards, WV CALA's top two prizes for classics are:

* "That's What Friends are For," the 1986 tune about a West Virginia attorney general who hires his political cronies who contribute to his campaigns to file state lawsuits and reap millions in legal fees. So popular it won Songwriter of the Year honors for Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager.

* "Luck of the Draw," Bonnie Raitt's 1991 Album of the Year about West Virginia's system of "jackpot justice."

Cohen is executive director of WV CALA.

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