Heath

CHARLESTON –- A majority of West Virginia voters see lawsuits hurting job opportunities in the Mountain State, according to a recent survey.

The survey, completed by Mark Blankenship Enterprises for West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, questioned more than 500 registered likely West Virginia voters about a variety of topics related to the state's legal climate. The margin of error was 4.3 percent.

"West Virginia voters are very familiar with the problems that are currently hurting West Virginia's legal system," WV CALA Executive Director Richie Heath said. "They say our state has too many lawsuits -— and that those lawsuits are hurting our state's job prospects at a time when the economy is the most important issue for almost all of our state residents."

More than six in 10 (62 percent) of West Virginians believe that there are too many lawsuits filed in West Virginia, and voters who see a negative impact of lawsuits on job creation outnumber the opposite view by nearly two to one (52 percent to 28 percent).

Also, three out of four West Virginians (76 percent) say the legal climate is an important issue for them as voters.

A majority of those surveyed (52 percent) also expressed support for the creation of an intermediate appeals court -— which was recommended nearly two years ago by then-Gov. Joe Manchin's Independent Commission on Judicial Reform. Intermediate appeals court legislation passed in the state Senate earlier this year, and was an issue during the recent special election for governor.

"Many West Virginians realize that the creation of an intermediate appeals court is a necessary step for the state," Heath said. "The lack of an intermediate appeals court places West Virginia outside of the legal mainstream, and has directly cost our state hundreds of jobs and more than $25 million in investment."

Heath said the survey results indicate that voters in West Virginia are keenly aware of the legal issues which have an impact on the economy. They also name jobs and the economy as the single most important issue in the upcoming elections.

"This survey makes it clear that if we don't take the necessary steps toward reforming our state courts, a large number of West Virginia voters will be looking for change," Heath said.

The survey was conducted by live interviewers, and land-line and high
use cellular telephone respondents were included. A survey of 506 completed interviews of West Virginia voters has a maximum sample variation of 4.3 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence, according to MBE.

For more information about WV CALA, visit www.wvcala.org.

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