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March 7, 2005

Chamber Survey Ranks W.Va. 49 in Legal Fairness

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – U.S. Chamber President and CEO Thomas Donohue today announced West Virginia ranked 49 among the fifty states in legal fairness, according to the Institute for Legal Reform/Harris Interactive 2005 State Liability Systems Ranking Study.

“The legal system in West Virginia is badly flawed and needs to be fixed,” said Donohue. “The workers comp bill recently signed by Governor Manchin is a good first step in improving the business climate, but comprehensive reforms are necessary to restore fairness to the state’s legal system and attract new jobs and business investment.”

Donohue pointed to several actions that would drastically improve the state’s litigation environment: significant joint and several liability reform; reform of the collateral source rule; asbestos reform; medical monitoring reforms; reform of third party bad faith lawsuits; and limitations on unreasonable punitive and non-economic damages.

“Employers are drawn to states with a fair and balanced legal system,” continued Donohue. “Governor Manchin and the legislature should follow the lead of Mississippi, Texas and Ohio and pass reforms that will provide balance to West Virginia’s legal system.”

The Institute for Legal Reform has placed full-page newspaper ads across the state to promote the results of the study and highlight the need for comprehensive legal reform legislation. West Virginia has been ranked next-to-last in legal fairness four years in a row.

The ILR/Harris Interactive survey of more than 1,400 senior corporate attorneys is the preeminent standard by which companies, policymakers and the media judge the legal fairness of states.

The mission of the Institute for Legal Reform is to make America’s legal system simpler, fairer and faster for everyone. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation, representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.

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