CALA spotlights 'foolish' lawsuits in online survey

CHARLESTON -- A statewide legal reform group has invited West Virginians to choose their favorite April Fool's Day lawsuit as a way to draw attention to abuse of the courts.

The online survey might be in good fun, but Steve Cohen, executive director of West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, says public awareness of such frivolous and outrageous lawsuits can lead to reform that will make the state attractive for creating jobs.

According to Cohen, among the cases from which voters may choose are:

* The $50,000 lawsuit against a Putnam County eatery filed by a woman who claims she bit into an unshelled pecan and damaged her tooth. She claims medical bills of $8,647, with the balance for damages. Her husband is a plaintiff here, too, on the ground that he lost the consortium of his bride for her oral incapacitation.

* From the same personal injury lawyer that filed the above "nutty" lawsuit, a claim against a retailer from a woman who says she was trapped underneath a defective two-drawer filing cabinet.

* The railway worker who sued his employer for $75,000 because a Jackson County goose took flight while he was on the job and allegedly attacked him.

* The $40 million lawsuit filed by Deb Novak and John Witek against the makers of the movie, "We Are Marshall" for allegedly misappropriating the tragedy of the deadly plane crash.

* The Kanawha County high school graduate who is suing on the grounds that he is "unprepared for life."

* The personal injury lawyers who raked in fees and expenses of $135 million in a verdict where the plaintiffs presented no evidence of actual injury.

* Attorney General Darrell McGraw, whose refusal to deliver restitution to the state Medicaid program has cost the state nearly $5 million in funds for West Virginia's poor and disabled.

* McGraw for telling the Legislature to come up with millions of dollars due state agencies McGraw named as plaintiffs in a lawsuit he settled for $10 million, yet refuses to reimburse these agencies from the lawsuit proceeds.

* To state cheerleaders who have retreated from their "Open for Business" slogan among recurring announcements of high-dollar lawsuit awards, jobs leaving the state, and a bottom-of-the barrel ranking of our state by potential employers.

Votes may be cast on WV CALA's Web site, which is

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