Chamber surveys lawyers on W.Va. courts

Associated Press
Tuesday, March 8, 2005

West Virginia earned average grades from 107 corporate defense lawyers quizzed about the fairness of the state's courts by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a survey released Tuesday said.
The chamber used the grades to rank the Mountain State above only Mississippi in its latest annual report on civil justice systems.
The chamber's Institute for Legal Reform and Harris Interactive queried 1,437 lawyers nationwide on 10 topics, including the handling of lawsuits, the timeliness of rulings and the fairness of judges and juries. The chamber limited the survey to lawyers for insurance companies and corporations with annual revenues of at least $100 million.
Only 7.4 percent of the lawyers surveyed offered an opinion about West Virginia. Assigning grades on a 4.0 scale, they gave the state an average grade equal to a "C." Grades by category ranged from a B- for juries' predictability to a C- for the treatment of class action suits.
The chamber plans to run ads in state newspapers to tout its survey and to convince Gov. Joe Manchin and lawmakers to "curb lawsuit abuse."

The survey was the chamber's fourth annual survey, and all have ranked West Virginia 49th. Consumer groups and trial lawyers question the findings.
"What would you expect by surveying corporate lawyers and in-house lawyers for major corporations and insurance companies?" said Joanne Doroshow, executive for the New York-based Center for Justice and Democracy. "They don't represent the people or the local businesses in a community."
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D

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