Heath

CHARLESTON -- Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week, which is Oct. 10-16, is a timely reminder for West Virginians of the true impact of lawsuit abuse, according to legal watchdog group West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (WV CALA).

The non-profit organization, which includes more than 30,000 supporters statewide, urged West Virginians to take a more active role in improving the state's legal system.

"Over the years, West Virginia has lost a lot to lawsuit abuse," WV CALA Executive Director Richie Heath said. "Frivolous lawsuit filings have had an enormous impact on our everyday lives, routinely costing our school systems precious tax dollars and even jeopardizing our local parks and playgrounds."

WV CALA points to notable lawsuit filings against Huntington's public parks district -- resulting in one out of every five tax dollars being spent on liability costs -- as an example of what can be lost to lawsuits. School districts have also looked at removing playground equipment as a result of increased exposure to lawsuit filings.

WV CALA also notes the proliferation of silly warning labels on all sorts of everyday products ― a phenomenon that is primarily driven by fear of litigation.

"It's amazing to think that something as commonplace as school recess can be lost to lawsuit abuse," Heath said. "There is not an aspect of our lives that isn't impacted by lawsuits.

"When our legal system is abused, we all pay and we all lose."

Noting that West Virginia's lack of a meaningful right of appeal alone has directly cost the state hundreds of jobs and more than $25 million in investment, WV CALA encouraged local residents to join the fight against lawsuit abuse.

West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse is a non-profit group focused on a broad range of issues affecting the state's civil justice system.

For more information about the organization, visit www.wvcala.org.

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