In response to a recent report on the judicial viewpoints of state Supreme Court justices, West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (WV CALA) today released the first part of a list of cases underscoring the judicial philosophy and activism of Justice Brent Benjamin.
“Numerous decisions expose Justice Benjamin’s judicial activism. As Justice Benjamin continues to talk about his judicial philosophy, we feel it is appropriate to highlight his record and the likelihood of his joining with the most liberal justices of our supreme court in non-majority cases,” said Roman Stauffer, Executive Director of WV CALA.
West Virginia’s problems with lawsuit abuse and the reputation of our court system have been identified by many important organizations in West Virginia and throughout the nation. Our reputation as a “judicial hellhole” and as one of the most unfair legal systems in the country has stifled our ability to attract new investment, economic growth, and more jobs.
Here are a few cases where Justice Benjamin joined with the majority of the court and has contributed to the notorious rankings:
Morris v. Crown Equipment, Case No. 32751 (W.Va. 2006)
This case highlights the issue of venue shopping in West Virginia. The plaintiff was a resident of Virginia, he was injured in Virginia, and he filed the lawsuit against an Ohio Company in West Virginia. Justice Benjamin joined liberal Justices Robin Davis, Larry Starcher and Joe Albright to allow this case to proceed in West Virginia’s court system despite its questionable connections to West Virginia.
Tug Valley Pharmacy v. All Plaintiffs Below, Case No. 14-0144 (W.Va. 2015)
In this case, Justice Benjamin and fellow liberal justices Robin Davis and Margaret Workman decided to enable criminals and their attorneys to profit from illegal behavior. The majority decided that twenty-nine plaintiffs, who have admitted to drug related crimes, could file lawsuits against doctors, pharmacies and medical centers claiming that they contributed to the plaintiffs’ addictions to controlled substances.
Kenney v. Liston, Case No. 13-0427 (W.Va. 2014)
In this case, Justice Benjamin and the court’s majority held that the collateral source rule permits parties in a lawsuit to recover medical costs even if a healthcare provider agrees to reduce, discount, or write off a portion of or all of the medical costs. This will allow parties in a lawsuit and their lawyers to recover “phantom damages” that may have never been incurred or even paid by anyone on the parties’ behalf.
“In the coming weeks we will share with our members and the general public additional cases that highlight Justice Benjamin’s judicial activism. Also, while he attempts to qualify for state funding for his political re-election campaign, public records show that much of Justice Benjamin’s contributions have come from millionaire personal injury lawyers. We will be highlighting just who his supporters are, which seems to fall in line with his record on the state’s highest court skewing toward creating more questionable lawsuits in West Virginia,” concluded Stauffer.