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Cole says hellhole label may be going away soon

CHARLESTON, W.Va.¬†—¬†Republican legislative leaders, House Speaker Tim Armstead and Senate President Bill Cole, were honored last week in Washington, D.C., by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for legal reforms which passed earlier this year in the legislature.

Cole, speaking on MetroNews “Talkline”, said while it was a great honor to accept the recognition it was important to credit the legislature for the changes. He added the changes were bi-partisan as well and although the Republican leadership put the bills on the agenda, they also received support from legislative Democrats.

The American Tort Reform Association has labeled West Virginia a “Judicial Hellhole” for the past several years. It’s a moniker many would like to see erased. Cole said he believed that was coming.

“This isn’t an announcement, but I think the organization that has us on the top of the Judicial Hellhole’s list is probably going to take a different look at us,” Cole said. “Stay tuned, but I think in November West Virginia is going to look a whole lot better.”

Cole, who is also a Republican candidate for governor, said the work to achieve legal reforms this past session wasn’t easy.

“I think we’re moving in the right direction, I don’t think the job’s completed by any stretch of the imagination, but I think we moved a long way,” he said. “We still have some work to do.”

Cole said the intermediate appellate court is one layer he believes should be addressed in the months and years ahead.

Legislation approved included:

HB 2002: Comparative Fault
HB 2011: Deliberate intent
SB 3: Trespass Liability
SB 13: Open and Obvious
SB 6: Medical Professional Liability
SB 411: Asbestos Claim Trust Act
SB 578: Occupational disease claims (black lung)
SB 421: Punitive damages in civil actions
SB 37: Uniform arbitration act
SB 315: Consumer Protection

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