Comments by United Bankshares CEO and state chamber chair Richard Adams raise important points about the need to fix West Virginia's legal system (Brett Dunlap, "Parkersburg businessman outlines plan," Jan. 12). Mr. Adams notes as a leader of a company operating in multiple states, "(W)e have more lawsuits in West Virginia. It all comes down to being competitive when you talk about creating jobs."
In December, the American Tort Reform Foundation named West Virginia a "Judicial Hellhole." The group cited a recent Supreme Court of Appeals opinion expanding property owners' liability, as well as our status as one of two only states nationally without an absolute right of appeal.
Our reputation for unfair courts continues to hinder our ability to attract sorely needed new jobs. It also deters our small businesses from expanding and drives people out of our state to look for work elsewhere.
Clearly, West Virginia needs legal reforms to make us competitive with surrounding states. As Mr. Adams observes, "If we have a pro-business legislature, we are going to have an environment that can create jobs."
Sadly, our current state legislature is pro-lawsuits and anti-jobs.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Greg Thomas is Executive Director of the West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse.