CHARLESTON - A state legal reform group is happy that three candidates for the state Legislature who were heavily backed by personal injury lawyers didn't make it past the primary election.
West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse said Monday that the defeats of Shane Mallett, Kenneth Tucker and Roger Decanio show that West Virginians don't want lawmakers to be in the pocket of the state's lawsuit industry.
"Voters are fed up with personal injury lawyers' frivolous lawsuits and know that greedy lawsuits drive jobs out of West Virginia and threaten our healthcare," WV CALA Executive Director Steve Cohen said. "Warning to political aspirants: If you are beholden to the lawsuit industry, you will lose."
Mallett, Tucker and Decanio were part of CALA's "Dirty Dozen" list, which ranked the top 12 takers of campaign cash from personal injury lawyers.
Mallett, a Wheeling attorney and former candidate for state Senate, had 64 percent of his campaign funded by personal injury lawyers. Del. Jack Yost defeated him by 6 percent.
Tucker finished third in a three-man primary in Marshall County, falling short in his re-election bid. More than 56 percent of his campaign was funded by personal injury lawyers, as he has served in the state Legislature since 1996.
Decanio, a Charleston lawyer, lost in the crowded race to be a 30th District delegate. More than 51 percent of his campaign was funded by personal injury lawyers.
Cohen said CALA still is worried that the lawyers gave nearly $175,000 to legislative candidates and another $233,000 to Supreme Court candidates and Attorney General Darrell McGraw.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Spike Maynard received most of the business community's backing. The state Chamber of Commerce spent more than $500,000 promoting him. Huntington attorney Menis Ketchum and former Justice Margaret Workman defeated him in the primary.