Report: W.Va. justice a 'hellhole'

Dec. 20, 2007 at 2:40 PM
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CHARLESTON, W.Va., Dec. 20 (UPI) -- A report listing West Virginia No. 4 in the "judicial hellhole" national rankings drew -- predictably -- mixed comments.

Yes, the ranking by the American Tort Reform Foundation was an improvement over last year, when the group relegated the Mountain State to the bottom of the judicial heap, The Charleston Gazette reported Thursday.

This year's report kept West Virginia near the bottom "despite the occasional faint sign of hope."

"It's nothing to be proud of when you're at the bottom of a national ranking," commented Steve Cohen, West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse executive director, who says West Virginia is a dumping ground for out-of-state plaintiffs

Teresa Toriseva, the president of the state's trial lawyers association, countered that civil filings were 15 percent below the national average.

"It's a farce for them to be saying that we are a 'judicial hellhole,' and they know it," she said.

The foundation highlighted a breach of contract in which a jury awarded the plaintiff a multimillion-dollar verdict.

"Despite the lack of any supporting evidence of damages, the case went to trial and ended with a $10.5 million verdict against the defendant," the report said.

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