WASHINGTON – For the first time, West Virginia doesn’t rank 49th or 50th in a national survey ranking states’ legal climates. The Mountain State comes in at 45th in the survey released Sept. 12 by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. In the 10 previous surveys that span 15 year, West Virginia either ranked 49th or 50th. It was 50th in the last six surveys, dating back to 2006 (also 2015, 2012, 2010, 2008 and 2007).
MARTINSBURG – According to the Centers for Disease Control, opioid overdose deaths in 2015 killed West Virginians at the rate of 41.5 per 100,000 residents. Lost lives. Shattered families. An estimated millions of dollars in state, county and municipal debt thanks to the highest overdose rate in the country – one that’s three times the national average.
MORGANTOWN – The January 2014 water crisis following the Freedom Industries' chemical leak affected more than 225,000 Kanawha Valley residents, workers and businesses. People had to purchase bottled water to drink and cook and had to travel outside the area to bathe. Businesses were affected too, especially restaurants, medical offices, hotels and others that depend on safe, clean water for daily operations.
CHARLESTON – A legal reform group is calling the $45 million fee request for the plaintiffs attorneys who have worked on the 2014 water crisis lawsuit and settlement a prime example of “lawsuit greed.” The executive director of West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse also said he hopes the fee amount will be “greatly reduced.” One of the attorneys who worked on the class action case, however, says the request is reasonable and says most people don’t understand all of the work and money that goes into handling such a case. And the president of a statewide group for trial lawyers says CALA is trying to distort the facts.
WASHINGTON – Gov. Jim Justice has signed a bill making key changes to the West Virginia Consumer Credit Protection Act, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is praising the move. Justice signed Senate Bill 563 into law on April 24. Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), said the law will further reduce frivolous lawsuits and improve the business climate in the state of West Virginia.
CHARLESTON – Two groups that frequently butt heads are doing it again, this time over a recent state Supreme Court opinion saying West Virginia is “an appeal by right jurisdiction.” In a Feb. 8 opinion about the involuntary hospitalization of a Kanawha County woman, Chief Justice Allen Loughry used a case point to stress that “all properly perfected appeals are reviewed by the (West Virginia Supreme) Court and result in a written decision on the merits of each appeal.” In the opinion, Loughry writes that the petitioner had discounted the Supreme Court’s ruling in a previous case, relying on a case styled Hammons v.