CHARLESTON -- Congratulations to the candidates who were successful in the Primary Election and advanced to the General Election.

It is an exciting time in West Virginia. Many well-qualified candidates have stepped forward and are running more competitive campaigns all across our state.

West Virginians need to familiarize themselves with the candidates promising to lead our state into the future. As our state economy continues to struggle, many Mountain State voters will be keeping a strong focus on jobs.

Consequently, voters need to consider where their local candidates stand on the issue of legal reform because lawsuit abuse ultimately steals jobs from West Virginia workers and their families.

The American Tort Reform Foundation has named West Virginia a ‘Judicial Hellhole’ for 10 years. West Virginia remains among only two states in the country where one does not have an absolute right to appeal. The legal climate in the Mountain State remains one where businesses are subject to pro-plaintiff rulings, fear excessive liability, and lack a full appellate review.

Unfortunately, special interests work to preserve West Virginia’s broken legal system. Every election cycle, the personal injury lawsuit industry spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on candidates who they expect will fight against much-needed legal reforms. This year is no exception.

Millionaire personal injury lawyers are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to elect candidates who support their ‘sue and settle’ agenda, who are supportive of more causes of action that open our legal system to more lawsuits, and who oppose legal reforms that would attract job creators to our state.

Research conducted by West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse shows that personal injury lawyer interests have already contributed more than $250,000 to select legislative candidates this year.

Certain personal injury firms routinely contribute thousands of dollars to legislative candidates outside of their district.

West Virginia is not for sale; and West Virginia voters deserve to know which candidates are being funded by the greed of the personal injury lawsuit industry.

A greedy few profit from West Virginia’s ‘jackpot justice’ legal system, while most of us end up paying higher prices for goods, losing access to important medical and community services and lose out on opportunities for well-paying jobs.

West Virginians should find out which of their local candidates are putting the interests of wealthy personal injury lawyers over West Virginia workers and families.

It’s time our state lawmakers fought for more jobs, not more job-killing lawsuits. We cannot move forward as a state until we reject those who are beholden to the personal injury lawyer special interests.

Our candidates’ positions on lawsuit abuse can help put food on the dinner table and gas in the car -- or, conversely, take those things away from us.

Thomas is Executive Director of West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse.

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