As a West Virginia state legislator, Kayla Kessinger is no stranger to the debate surrounding the state’s business and lawsuit climate.
“In order to bring jobs into this state, we have to make West Virginia more competitive,” Kessinger told Faces of Lawsuit Abuse. “And one of the biggest areas where we’re lacking is in tort reform.
But for Kessinger, it’s also personal.
That’s because her family owns Synergy Sand — a small business that supplies sand to the hydraulic fracturing industry.
“When the bottom fell out of coal and we lost the business that we had run for several years, we decided that we wanted to get involved in the natural gas industry, particularly with some of the fracking that’s up in the Northern Panhandle and in Wheeling, ” explained Kessinger. “When we started to pursue the liability insurance that was required for the company to operate, we were informed that, ‘if you were anywhere else in the country, you would be able to get insurance in no time.”
Because of the state’s lawsuit climate, however, the company spent months trying to get the insurance. That, said Kessinger, left her family struggling financially.
“Businesses are so afraid to come into West Virginia and invest in our state because of the fear of frivolous lawsuits,” she said.
The West Virginia legislature has passed a number of important legal reforms in recent years. One proposed reform that hasn’t yet passed the legislature, however, is a measure to create an Intermedia Court of Appeals to help with the state’s backlog of lower court decisions.
To learn more about the effort to create an Intermediate Court of Appeals and West Virginia’s lawsuit climate, please click here.