CHARLESTON - West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse has kicked off its annual week-long push for more legal reform in the state.

Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week runs from Oct. 1 to Oct. 5.

WV CALA, which Executive Director Richie Heath says includes more than 30,000 supporters statewide, is encouraging West Virginians to join the fight to fix the state's legal system.

"The longer our state waits to address the serious issues affecting our legal system, the further it falls behind," Heath said. "Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week is the perfect opportunity for reflecting on what West Virginia needs to do to create more jobs, not more lawsuits."

Heath says West Virginia's lawsuit climate continues to rank poorly nationwide, noting that West Virginia ranks last in the Institute for Legal Reform's recent "2012 Lawsuit Climate Survey." He noted that West Virginia also has been named a Judicial Hellhole by the American Tort Reform Foundation. (Editor's Note: The West Virginia Record is owned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform.

He said the poor reputation of the state's legal climate directly affects West Virginia's ability to attract jobs.

"These national rankings, as unpopular as they may be for many West Virginians, merely echo what job providers are already telling us -- West Virginia has too many lawsuits and our court system doesn't compare to neighboring states," Heath said. "As a result, our state loses out on the opportunity for many well-paying jobs."

Heath also said notable state business leaders in recent years have cited the need for additional legal reform measures in West Virginia.

"And yet, lawmakers haven't done enough to address the real problems affecting West Virginia's legal system, such as the state's insufficient appeals process, out-of-step laws like the 'No Proof? No Problem!' medical monitoring standard, and abusive and unethical behavior in the state Attorney General's office," Heath said.

"Now is the perfect time to reflect on what we have done, and what we still need to do. By addressing the problems that have been clearly identified, we can finally create more jobs in West Virginia."

For more information about Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week and WV CALA, visit www.wvcala.org.

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