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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — When the regular legislative session begins next week the issue of establishing a intermediate appellate court in West Virginia will likely be up for discussion again.

The American Tort Reform Association recently took the state off of its Judicial Hellhole list after legal reforms were passed by the Republican-controlled legislature last year, but the association still has the state on its watch list. The state’s trial lawyers, the West Virginia Association of Justice, believes that’s because ATRA wants to pressure lawmakers to establish the additional court system.

“That’s going to cost this state $10 million and that’s $10 million that we don’t have,” Association of Justice President Paige Flanigan said. “They are making $16 million in cuts to secondary education and over $16 million to higher education.”

ATRA President Sherman “Tiger” Joyce said he understands the appellate court issue may come up.

“We would see that as an extremely positive development,” he said.

But there’s already an avenue for businesses to appeal court decisions, Flanigan said.

“If they don’t get their way in trial court and they lose they have the right to appeal it to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals but they want yet another push-down method,” Flanigan said.

The 60-day regular legislative session begins Jan. 13.

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