CHARLESTON – Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, and Speaker of the House Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, today praised the Legislature’s efforts in changing West Virginia’s lawsuit climate after a new national survey released by the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform showed the state’s ranking had improved from 50th to 45th in the country. The ranking is the state’s highest one in the previous 10 surveys.
Harris Poll conducted the 2017 Lawsuit Climate Survey through more than 1,300 telephone and online interviews earlier this year. Participants were senior attorneys and executives in companies that have revenues of $100 million or more per year, and they were asked to rate the states based on a number of factors relating to its lawsuit environment, including judges, juries, courts, and laws. In the previous survey, conducted in 2015, West Virginia ranked at the bottom.
The survey cited the Legislature’s commitment to legal reform during the previous three sessions and what it described as “significant improvements” to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals as a reason for the new ranking. It also outlined areas of improvement, including improving West Virginia’s circuit courts.
“I am tremendously proud that our efforts as a Legislature are finally starting to get the kind of national recognition that they deserve,” Senate President Mitch Carmichael said. “From the beginning of our time in the majority, we have been laser-focused on creating the kind of environment that businesses would find irresistible, and it appears we are making significant strides. Now is the time to push forward even stronger: We clearly have work to do with our lower courts, and I look forward to making that a priority in the upcoming legislative session. There is no reason to leave any obstacles to development in our way.”
Speaker Armstead said the rankings show that West Virginia is finally becoming a place businesses are ready to consider as a location.
“For decades, West Virginia’s legal climate had been a roadblock to putting our citizens back to work,” Speaker Armstead said. “Since 2015, we’ve taken a number of bold steps to reverse the perception that West Virginia’s legal climate is unfair, and I’m pleased that job creators across the country have taken notice. We have more work to do, but this is an encouraging sign that the steps we’ve already taken are beginning to eliminate the view that our state’s civil justice system is an impediment to economic growth and investment in our state.”