High School Football

West Virginia no longer on ATR’s Judicial Hellholes list

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Mountain State has managed to get off of the annual American Tort Reform Association’s Judicial Hellholes list, but remains on the “watch” list on the 2015-2016 report that was released Thursday.

The report named courts in California, New York City, Florida, Missouri, Illinois, Louisiana, Texas and Virginia among the nation’s “most unfair” in their handling of civil litigation.

West Virginia joined Pottawatomie County, Okla., Philadelphia and New Jersey on the Watch List.

West Virginia’s drop from the list resulted from the legislature’s enactment of “several significant civil justice reforms in 2015, following the voters’ Election Day 2014 choice to demote the legislature’s trial lawyer-led majority to the minority,” according to the report. The report also cited the replacement of former Attorney General Darrell McGraw, Jr. with Patrick Morrisey, referring to Morrisey as “reform-minded.”

House Speaker Tim Armstead and Senate President Bill Cole will hold an 11 a.m. news conference Thursday morning to discuss West Virginia’s latest status in the report. The two will discuss how changes made by state legislators have improved the view of the state’s legal climate.

The WV Association for Justice has called on West Virginia lawmakers, the media and state business leaders to demand that the American Tort Reform Association’s discredited “Judicial Hellhole” attack cease immediately, questioning the credibility of the report.

“If there are any lingering doubts about the credibility of this so-called report, that should end today. We’ve been told repeatedly over the last decade that West Virginia would be taken off the list if our lawmakers would just pass ATRA’s legislative agenda. This year the West Virginia Legislature gave ATRA what it wanted, but we’re still on the watch list—and now they want more. It’s outrageous,” said president Paige Flanagan.

The report maintains that West Virginia undertook the most significant statutory reform in 2015.

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