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January 18, 2018

ALI Should Stick to Its Mission—Clarifying the Law, Not Changing It

Yesterday, in another example of legal reform progress in the Mountain State, West Virginia’s House of Delegates moved to crack down on ‘litigation tourism’ by unanimously passing HB 4013. The bill would prevent out-of-state plaintiffs from filing suit in state courts unless the harm being alleged actually occurred in West Virginia.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers across the nation have long taken advantage of West Virginia’s notoriously loose venue laws. Counting on the state’s pro-plaintiff civil justice environment to rack up slam-dunk judgments and settlements, plaintiffs’ lawyers have routinely filed lawsuits on behalf of clients who have never lived or worked in the state.

In recent years, West Virginia has made steady progress on improving its litigation environment, an achievement reflected in the most recent Lawsuit Climate Survey, conducted by Harris Poll and released by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). In the 2017 report, West Virginia rose five spots after languishing at the very bottom for years. The solutions in HB 4013 reflect recommendations from ILR’s recent research paper, West Virginia’s Climb: Lawsuit Climate Progress in the Mountain State and the Path Aheadand will prevent out-of-state lawsuits from clogging West Virginia’s courts.

Mountain State Delegates deserve praise for working to improve this aspect of the state’s lawsuit climate—now it’s up to the Senate and Governor Justice to seal the deal. 

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