CHARLESTON – A statewide group is disappointed that Gov. Jim Justice didn’t discuss legal reform in his first State of the State address.
“Our members will be encouraging legislators to enact lawsuit reforms that will bring our state in line with a majority of the country and help ensure a balanced and impartial legal system in West Virginia,” said Roman Stauffer, president of West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse.
A state group for trial lawyers, on the other hand, were pleased that Justice didn’t take up the issue.
“Governor Justice should be commended for refusing to cater to front groups like CALA and the out-of-state special interests hiding behind them,” said Jane E. Peak, president of the West Virginia Association for Justice. “The independent data shows that the problems CALA claims we have with our courts do not exist. More importantly, the jobs CALA promised with the passage of the previous bills they pushed never came.
“West Virginia is facing serious problems this year. Our lawmakers don’t have time to waste on frivolous bills that will do nothing but increase corporate profits for CALA’s funders. WVAJ urges lawmakers to follow Governor Justice’s lead and focus on issues that will make things better for our state and its economy.”
Stauffer did praise legislative leaders for legal reform work they’ve done in recent sessions and for more they are expected to take up this session, which started Feb. 8.
"We applaud Senate President (Mitch) Carmichael and Speaker (Tim) Armstead for continuing to focus on lawsuit reforms that are much-needed,” he said of the two Republicans. “West Virginia is no longer considered a Judicial Hellhole because of the leadership and commitment to lawsuit reform that this new Legislature has shown.”
Stauffer said WV CALA’s agenda for the session “will focus on creating more fairness in our court system.”
“We are supporting the creation of an intermediate court of appeals, and rules that prevent personal injury lawyers from collecting millions of dollars for injuries that haven't been proven, and allowing our juries to know whether someone involved in a car wreck was wearing his or her seatbelt, as the law requires,” he said.