CHARLESTON – A civil justice watchdog group hopes its new radio advertising campaign is a touchdown with listeners.

Each election, West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (WV CALA) tries to let residents know which candidates are receiving big donations from personal injury lawyers.

This year, the group is starting a series of radio ads with a football theme. It kicks off this week.

"West Virginia's legal system should provide a level playing field for everyone, but citizens need to be alert to legislative candidates who may be in the pocket of the personal lawsuit industry," the group said in a press release.

WV CALA says the campaign contributions from personal injury lawyers "will only feed the state's lawsuit abuse crisis."

"Imagine a football game where referees accept gifts from some players," the ad starts. "Sound like foul play? Personal injury lawyers spent thousands in campaign contributions to defeat legal reform while they score financial touchdowns.

"West Virginia's jobs take the hit. Stop lawsuit abuse," the ad goes on, inviting listeners to call CALA's toll-free number, 1-866-WatchWV, or visit its Web site at The ad concludes by asking listeners to "blow the whistle on unfair personal injury lawyer influence."

Steve Cohen, executive director of WV CALA, continued the football analogy.

"Personal injury lawyers have a game plan," Cohen said. "They hope to pour thousands of dollars into electing their friends to the state legislature to continue to profit from our state's unfair laws and out-of-control courts."

Cohen said official campaign finance reports on file with the Secretary of State's office show high levels of contributions from the personal injury lawsuit industry to a handful of friendly legislators. He added that with an unbalanced legal system, "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 losing out on well-paying jobs."

Cohen placed some of the blame on what CALA calls a "lawsuit-lawyer-friendly Legislature" and its "inaction on passing meaningful legal reform."

"Having a Legislature that will fight lawsuit abuse is a must because employers create jobs in states where the legal system is fair," Cohen said. "West Virginians need to know whether or not their candidates support reforms that are important to the state's future."

For more information about WV CALA, visit its Web site or write to P.O. Box 127, Charleston, WV 25321.

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