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News
March 26, 2006

U.S. Chamber: West Virginia Rates Last in Legal Fairness

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) today announced that West Virginia’s legal climate has fallen to last place out of the 50 states in the 2006 Harris State Liability Systems Ranking Study. In addition, various West Virginia jurisdictions were named among the least fair and reasonable jurisdictions in the country.

“Why has West Virginia fallen to dead last in the legal fairness rankings?” asked Tom Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Simple: the state legislature has failed time and again to pass meaningful and comprehensive legal reform legislation and the court system continues to be anti-business and anti-job creation.”

A recent actuarial study estimated the annual cost of the tort system in America to be $260 billion, or $886 per citizen. Following those estimates, the price tag of tort litigation for the entire population of West Virginia is more than $1.6 billon.

“The best thing West Virginia can do to attract business is to have a fair legal system,” said Donohue. “Businesses aren’t looking for an unfair advantage; they just want a level playing field. An unfair legal system sucks the life out of a state’s economy. It affects business expansion, it affects jobs and it takes money out of consumers’ pockets.

“Despite today’s bad news, we are confident that West Virginia can turn this around,” Donohue added. “Governor Manchin has committed to making changes and we are looking forward to working with him to make West Virginia truly open for business.”

The ILR/Harris Interactive survey of more than 1,400 senior attorneys, now in its fifth year, is the preeminent standard by which companies, policymakers and the media measure the legal fairness of states. For the fifth year in a row, Delaware was rated the best legal system in the country in terms of legal fairness.

To highlight the results of the study and the need for comprehensive legal reform, ILR is also launching a national advertising campaign. In West Virginia, ILR will run print, radio and billboard ads featuring the message “Please Don’t Feed the Trial Lawyers.”

ILR’s mission is to make America’s legal system simpler, fairer, and faster for everyone. It seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative, political, judicial, and educational activities at the national, state, and local levels. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation, representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.

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The ILR ranking survey is available online at www.instituteforlegalreform.org

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