WV CALA unveils its 'Dirty Dozen' list

By Chris Dickerson | Jul 11, 2006

CHARLESTON - A state legal reform group wants voters to know that legislative candidates on their ballots in this year's general election might be in the pocket of the personal-injury lawsuit industry.

CHARLESTON - A state legal reform group wants voters to know that legislative candidates on their ballots in this year's general election might be in the pocket of the personal-injury lawsuit industry.

According to official campaign finance records for the 2006 post-primary reporting period reviewed by West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (WV CALA), such a high level of support from the lawsuit industry only feeds the state's lawsuit abuse crisis.

"The danger to West Virginia citizens is that just a greedy few profit from excessive lawsuits, 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," said Steve Cohen, executive director of CALA, which has more than 30,000 members across the state.

"Just as in the last campaign cycle, most of this money is coming from a few big-money firms and is channeled into races far away from the offices or homes where these lawyers work and live. Our members want to know if their candidates are influenced by personal injury lawsuit interests and if they will support reforms to stop the state's lawsuit abuse problem."

CALA's Dirty Dozen "have taken money from personal injury lawyers who only profit from our state's reputation as a playpen for lawsuits," Cohen said. "This explains why West Virginia is ranked at the very bottom of all states in legal fairness, based on a national survey released earlier this year."

Cohen says that in the last general election cycle, more than half of the candidates on the Dirty Dozen list lost their bids for office, as did three from this year's primary.

"Having a Legislature that will fight lawsuit abuse is a must because employers create jobs in states where the legal system is fair," he said. "That is important to the future of West Virginia families and it why we need to know who is bankrolling these campaigns."

CALA researches individual campaign contributions in amounts greater than $250. Large contributors are required by state law to disclose their occupation.

The general election is Nov. 7.

The Dirty Dozen

2006 Post-Primary Reporting Period

Amount and percent of individual contributions over $250 received by personal injury lawyer interests:

1. Alex Shook (D) -- $22,000 (House District 44) 55.42 percent
2. Rick Thompson (D) -- $16,600 (House District 17) 57.74 percent
3. Edwin J. Bowman (D) -- $16,500 (Senate District 1) 19.95 percent
4. Paige Flanigan (D) -- $16,100 (House District 25) 63.39 percent
5. C. Randy White (D) -- $12,900 (Senate District 11) 37.53 percent
6. Joe DeLong (D) -- $12,500 (House District 1) 46.80 percent
7. Sharon Spencer (D) -- $11,300 (House District 30) 53.30 percent
8. Orphy Klempa (D) -- $10,500 (House District 3) 32.51 percent
9. Erik Wells (D) -- $7,750 (Senate District 8) 34.75 percent
10. Jim Lees (D) -- $4,750 (Senate District 4) 43.18 percent
11. Barbara Evans Fleischauer (D) -- $4,500 (House District 44) 28.39 percent
12. Truman Chafin (D) -- $3,000 (Senate Distirct 6) 6.74 percent

* Candidates on "Dirty Dozen" list before primary who lost
1. William "Bill" Wooton (D) -- $19,500 (Senate District 9) 43.24 percent
2. Chris Cooper (D) -- $13,900 (House District 46) 77.65 percent
3. Molly Lohr-Robinette (D) -- $7,500 (House District 24) 60.98 percent

Top 10 Personal Injury Firms
1. Bordas & Bordas (Wheeling) $29,500
2. Fitzsimmons Law Offices (Wheeling) $18,900
3. Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler (Charleston) $17,000
4. Marvin Masters (Charleston) $11,500
5. Bucci, Bailey & Javens (Charleston) $9,100
6. Scott Segal (Charleston) $8,000
7. Jim Humphreys (Charleston) $7,500
8. Berthold, Tiano & O'Dell (Charleston) $6,250
9. Frankovitch, Anetakis, Colantonio & Simon (Weirton) $5,000
10. Green, Ketchum, Bailey & Tweel (Huntington) $4,500
tie John Cooper, Cooper & Preston (Parsons) $4,500

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