The American Tort Reform Association has again ranked West Virginia the top “judicial hellhole” in the country in its annual report on courts it considers flawed, reports the Charleston Daily Mail. But a state-based trial lawyers group calls the report “phony” and little more than “propaganda” funded by corporations that are often the targets of the lawsuits the Washington-based tort reform group criticizes. “West Virginians are sick and tired of ATRA’s scare tactics,” said Allan N. Karlin, president of the West Virginia Association of Justice.
West Virginia ranked fourth in last year’s report and first in the 2006 report. The report faults the state for “its near perfect storm of anti-business rulings, massive lawsuits and cozy relationships between the personal injury bar, the state attorney general and some in the judiciary.” The other “hellholes” cited by the tort reform group are South Florida, Cook County, Ill., Atlantic County, N.J., Montgomery and Macon counties in Alabama, Los Angeles County, and Clark County, Nev. In addition, the Texas Gulf coast, Madison County, Ill., Baltimore and St. Louis were cited as potential hellholes.