Ads highlight business woes because of legal climate

By Chris Dickerson | Oct 5, 2006

CHARLESTON – An advertising campaign highlighting the difficulties businesses face because of West Virginia's legal climate has begun.

The television and print ad campaign started Thursday with a television commercial called "Faces." The ad is a series of testimonials from business owners and workers who are concerned about the ability of their own business to survive in a state ranked last for having the worst legal climate in the country for business.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform and the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce are behind the ad campaign. The Record is owned by the U.S. Chamber.

"These ads give a voice to the true victims of lawsuit abuse -- West Virginia workers and their families," ILR President Lisa Rickard said in a news release announcing the ads. "When frivolous lawsuits threaten West Virginia businesses, it is West Virginia jobs in the crosshairs."

Steve Roberts, president of the state Chamber, also commented on the campaign.

"Gov. Joe Manchin has long promised an overhaul to the state's legal environment and he has made significant strides towards achieving that goal," he said. "But it's time the legislature back up the governor and help this state grow jobs and opportunity."

The campaign will continue statewide for the next several weeks.

In March, the ILR released a study placing West Virginia last among states for its legal climate. The 2006 State Liability Systems Ranking Study also said West Virginia courts are among the least fair and reasonable jurisdictions in the country. West Virginia ranked last in nine of the 12 study categories.

Last December, the American Tort Reform Foundation had West Virginia as the only full state listed as a "Judicial Hellhole." The list, compiled annually by the American Tort Reform Foundation, has West Virginia ranked third behind Texas' Rio Grande Valley and Gulf Coast and Cook County, Illinois.

In August, released a special report entitled "The Best States For Business." West Virginia ranked 49th on the list, wedged between the hurricane-ravaged states of Mississippi (48th) and Louisiana (50th).

"To be fair," the online introduction by Forbes' Statistics Senior Editor Kurt Badenhausen says, "Mississippi and Louisiana were hurt by the devastation that Hurricane Katrina inflicted.

"All three states suffer from weak labor pools and growth prospects as well as a poor quality-of-life ranking."

Forbes compiled its list by ranking all 50 states in six main categories: business costs, economic climate, growth prospects, labor, quality of life and regulatory environment.

The Mountain State's highest ranking was 23rd for business costs. It ranked 29th for economic climate, 36th for quality of life, 47th for regulatory environment, 48th for labor and 50th for growth prospects.

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