Justice Benjamin's Record On The Supreme Court Should Concern West Virginians
To help inform West Virginians about the judicial philosophy of Justice Brent Benjamin, West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (WV CALA) today released a series of decisions from the Supreme Court of Appeals that show a pattern of judicial activism from Justice Benjamin.
“Justice Benjamin is traveling across West Virginia urging voters to examine his twelve-year record on the state’s highest court. We have also encouraged voters to examine his record, which will provide them the opportunity to view his judicial philosophy, and the decisions he has supported that have raised concern among West Virginians who want our state’s highest court to exhibit fairness and impartiality and respect for the rule of law,” said Roman Stauffer, Executive Director of WV CALA.
Justice Brent Benjamin’s Cases of Concern:
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.
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.
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. The legislature passed the wrongful conduct rule into law to correct this decision.
The opinions for these cases, which Justice Brent Benjamin supported, are publicly available on the Supreme Court of Appeals website at http://www.courtswv.gov.
Stauffer continued, “These cases represent a small sampling of the cases in which Justice Brent Benjamin joined with Justice Robin Davis in exhibiting judicial activism. Justice Benjamin’s record on our court is an area of concern for many West Virginians who support a fair and balanced court. Nearly every organization that supported his election in 2004 now supports other candidates.”
Additionally, annual reports show that during Justice Benjamin’s term on the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, the budget for West Virginia’s court system has increased by 80 percent from nearly $80 million in 2005 to nearly $145 million in 2016.
“Justice Benjamin claims he is a conservative and a constitutionalist, but his record on our court is anything but conservative. When you review his record, you understand why hundreds of millionaire personal injury lawyers and their friends gave him thousands of dollars so that he could qualify for a taxpayer funded political campaign. We will continue to educate West Virginians about Justice Benjamin’s judicial record to help them decide if his judicial philosophy reflects their views,” concluded Stauffer.