CHARLESTON – West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse says Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin failed to address legal reform in his State of the State address on Feb. 13.
WV CALA said Tomblin’s speech missed two key topics: That West Virginia is last in jobs and that it is last in legal fairness.
Tomblin’s address barely touched on the critically important topic of job creation and he failed to mention the common-sense and low-cost legal reforms that could help create jobs in West Virginia, according to WV CALA.
WV CALA Executive Director Greg Thomas said job creation is a critical topic for West Virginia and its leaders.
“It is disappointing, though not at all surprising that Gov. Tomblin failed to mention legal reform in this year’s State of the State address,” Thomas said. “Until our leaders in Charleston get serious about legal reform and its relationship with job creation, we can expect to see continuing job losses and low rankings for our state’s economy and legal climate.”
Thomas said West Virginia lost more jobs that any other state in the nation last year.
West Virginia currently also currently retains the American Tort Reform Association label of “Judicial Hellhole” and ranks last for legal fairness in rankings by the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform, a position the state has held for the past six years.
The West Virginia Record is owned by the ILR.
WV CALA recently released a poll that found that the public sees the problems in West Virginia’s legal system and the connection those problems have with the state’s economy.
The poll found that the majority of West Virginia voters believe that passing lawsuit reforms would have a positive impact on the state’s economy.
Ninety-eight percent of those who participated in the survey believe that jobs and the economy is an important issue, while 92 percent said it is very important.
Seventy-nine percent of participants believe the state’s legal climate is an important issues, with 52 percent saying that passing legal reforms would have a positive impact on the economy and jobs.
“The connection between legal reform and building our economy is staring us in the face,” Thomas said. “And if the public 'gets it,' our state leaders ought to as well.”
Thomas said legal reform is not a “heavy lift” and does not cost anything.
“It just builds the public trust in our courts, as well as employers' interest in bringing jobs here,” Thomas said.
WV CALA is calling for action on the following issues as our legislative sessions is getting underway: the creation of an intermediate court of appeals; improved “joint and several liability” laws related to assessing blame and damages; and a bill to increase transparency in the bidding process for private attorneys by state agencies.
WV CALA is a nonprofit citizen watchdog group with 30,000 members interested in a broad range of civil justice issues.