CHARLESTON – Gov. Joe Manchin intends to close a door to forum shoppers who would choose West Virginia justice over justice where they live.
Manchin supports legislation that would sharply reduce the value of a West Virginia plaintiff in any plea that an outsider's lawsuit belongs in a West Virginia court.
State law currently provides that a judge can't stay or dismiss an action involving non resident plaintiffs if a West Virginian is properly joined and the action arose out of a single occurrence.
The provision contains a safeguard, requiring a judge to dismiss a claim if a lawyer joined a West Virginian solely for the purpose of jurisdiction.
The safeguard doesn't satisfy Manchin. He would erase the whole provision.
Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin and House Speaker Rick Thompson introduced the bill Manchin requested, and the House judiciary committee passed it Jan. 22.
The bill would not change the bulk of the state's forum law.
The law declares, "... plaintiff's choice of a forum is entitled to great deference, but this preference may be diminished when the plaintiff is a nonresident and the cause of action did not arise in this state."