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News
January 30, 2018

Bill Protects Federal Infrastructure Projects from Abusive Lawsuits

West Virginia’s state legislature continues to prove that it’s serious about improving the state’s litigation environment, and State Senate President Mitch Carmichael and Governor Jim Justice deserve credit for helping to lead the way. Today, the Senate passed a bill to rein in “litigation tourism” (HB 4013), where out-of-state plaintiffs file lawsuits in West Virginia courts for alleged harms that happened elsewhere. Last month, the House of Delegates passed the same bill unanimously.

West Virginia has long served as a magnet for plaintiffs’ lawyers to file out-of-state lawsuits because of its permissive venue laws. Often, such suits are on behalf of clients who never worked or lived in West Virginia.

Making sure that West Virginia courts are used by the state’s residents would help the state build on its momentum in enacting legal reforms in recent years. In 2017, after years at the bottom nationally, West Virginia rose five spots in Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States, conducted by Harris Poll and released by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR).

In January, ILR released West Virginia’s Climb: Lawsuit Climate Progress in the Mountain State and the Path Ahead, which included recommendations for reform included in HB 4013. 

The bill now goes back to the House of Delegates for concurrence, and ultimately will head to Gov. Justice’s desk. We urge him to sign it into law. In his recent “state of the state” speech, Gov. Justice told the state legislature that, “we’re moving like you can’t imagine.” If enacted, HB 4013 would show that the Mountain State’s is keeping the pedal to the metal on legal reform.

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