The West Virginia Legislature recently wrapped up its sixty day session having passed quite a few reforms that will improve our state’s lawsuit system.
We at West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (WV CALA) applaud Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, Senate President Bill Cole, and Speaker Tim Armstead for supporting these reforms. Here is a list of some of the legal reforms passed by the West Virginia Legislature:
Comparative Fault (HB 2002)
This legislation will ensure that parties involved in a lawsuit where an injury occurs is required to pay the share of damages that a jury of West Virginians has determined is their responsibility. In January, our statewide opinion survey showed that a majority of West Virginians strongly supports comparative fault.
Trespass Liability (SB 3)
This legislation will help protect property owners from those who trespass illegally on their property and file a lawsuit against the property owner as a result of an injury.
Open and Obvious Doctrine (SB 13)
This issue was listed in the American Tort Reform Foundation’s “Judicial Hellhole” report this year. This legislation clarifies that a property owner is not liable for injuries sustained as a result of dangers that are obvious, reasonably apparent, or well known to the person injured as they are to the property owner.
Asbestos Trust Transparency (SB 411)
This legislation shines a bright light of transparency into the process of filing claims with asbestos bankruptcy trusts. In recent years, there has been a wave of personal injury lawyers exposed for engaging in fraud and abuse in regards to claims made to asbestos trusts. This legislation will help ensure those with legitimate claims in the future will continue to have available asbestos bankruptcy trust resources.
Punitive Damage Caps (SB 421)
This legislation brings West Virginia’s punitive damage caps in line with surrounding states and limits punitive damages to four times compensatory damages or $500,000 whichever is greater.
Medical Professional Liability Act (MPLA) Expansion (SB 6)
This lawsuit reform adds nursing homes and pharmacies to the Medical Professional Liability Act, which the Legislature passed in 2003. It will protect these healthcare providers against out-of-state personal injury lawyers who have targeted West Virginia nursing home providers and caretakers in hopes of “jackpot justice” verdicts.
Non-Partisan Election of Judges (HB 2010)
The political affiliation of a judge should never be considered when talking about administering justice in a fair and impartial legal system. This legislation will bring West Virginia in line with other states. Under the current system, West Virginia was one of seven states that elected its judges on a partisan ballot.
We will continue to update you as Governor Tomblin approves additional legal reform bills that will will help attract more jobs to West Virginia and provide a boost to our economy.
We want to send out a special thank you to all of you WV CALA supporters who helped advocate for these important civil justice reforms! They would not have happened without so much public support for these meaningful changes.