We don't want lawsuits that belong elsewhere

By The West Virginia Record | Jun 9, 2015

We have long contended that West Virginia courts should be for West Virginians. Of course, we're perfectly willing to make exceptions for out-of-state residents prosecuting claims against our citizens or business enterprises, but we have little use for litigants whose  lawsuits have no discernible or demonstrable connection to where the suit was filed.

We do not consider our undesirable reputation for generous juries to be a sufficient reason for an outlander to initiate a case that properly belongs elsewhere.

The same reasoning applies to our county courts. A suit filed in Cabell County or Putnam County should have an obvious connection to the locality concerned. If it does, fine. If not, the judge assigned to the case should send the plaintiffs packing.

Two recent filings illustrate this distinction.

The first plaintiff, Robert Smith of Ironton, Ohio, is suing Cabell Huntington Hospital in Cabell Circuit Court for the allegedly wrongful death of the daughter that he and his wife lost during delivery there. Smith is not a resident of West Virginia, but the hospital where the tragedy occurred is in Cabell County.

The venue chosen for the case is clearly appropriate.

The second plaintiff, Harles Ray of Hazard, Ky., is suing Lowe's in Putnam Circuit Court for injuries he allegedly received at a Lowe's outlet in Logan County, West Virginia. Ray is not a resident of West Virginia, but the Lowe's at which the incident supposedly occurred is in our state, so that's logical.

Without considering the merits of the case, we have to wonder why Ray is suing in Putnam County (where not a single Lowe's is located) instead of Logan County, home of the Lowe's in question.

We can't help thinking it all smacks of gamesmanship and the search for a venue likely to be liberal in redistributing wealth from those who've earned it to those who haven't, and we really don't want lawsuits like that cluttering the dockets of our courts.

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