The Alpha and Omega of Legal Reform

By June 7, 2008Briefly Legal

A package of stories by Quin Hillyer appears in today’s Examiner, laying out the benefits of enacting tort reform. From “Tort reform is good medicine“:

Some of the biggest recent tort-reform success stories have come from states long rated by various interest groups as being among the worst “judicial hellholes.” The hellish reputations result from having rules that encourage the filing of frivolous suits or outrageously large financial awards for dubious injury or other claims of harm. Reforms seem to have the most visible results in the health care arena.

The sidebars are commentaries:

Speaking of the judicial branch…From the Charleston Gazette, May 29th, “Chesapeake scraps $30m headquarters plans.”

Chesapeake Energy has canceled plans to build its Eastern Division headquarters in Charleston because of a West Virginia Supreme Court ruling on May 22, the company announced today.

“The decision was stunning,” Scott Rotruck, vice president of corporate development, said in a prepared statement. “As a result, Chesapeake Energy has the made the decision to cancel plans to build a new regional headquarters building Charleston.”

In January 2007, a Roane County jury found that Columbia Natural Resources Corp., which Chesapeake bought in November 2005, and NiSource Inc. shortchanged more than 8,000 gas-rights owners.

Last week, the state Supreme Court voted 5-0 to deny a request for an appeal from NiSource and Chesapeake Energy, upholding the jury verdict that requires the natural gas companies to pay $405 million to plaintiffs in royalties and punitive damages.

“While we hold a less significant amount of the liability in the verdict, we do believe it sends a profoundly negative message about the business climate in the state,” Rotruck said. “The reality of this decision is that nobody in West Virginia, similarly situated, has a guaranteed right of appeal in the judicial system.”

(Hat tip: Walter Olson)

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