CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia once again scored low as a judicial hellhole on the American Tort Reform Association's report but the organization says there have been "modest improvements."
This year, West Virginia took the fourth spot behind New York City, Louisiana and California.
The low ranking isn't new. Since the report's existence, West Virginia has ranked among the bottom five, hitting its lowest point five years ago at the top spot.
"With a legislature dominated by personal injury lawyers, too many trial judges willing to expand liability from the bench, and no intermediate level appeals court, West Virginia has become a perennial Judicial Hellhole," Tiger Joyce, the association's president, said in the news release.
However, the West Virginia Association for Justice said the report should be discredited because the organization says it's inaccurate. The association's news release cited a 2007 New York Times report, saying the judicial hellhole report wasn't a valid analysis.
"For more than a decade now, the American Tort Reform Association has unfairly criticized West Virginia in state and national media," Bernie Layne, president of the organization, said in a news release. "These are baseless attacks that damage our national reputation and hamper efforts to attract new businesses to our state. These attacks need to stop now."
This year's report once again criticized West Virginia's lack of an intermediate court.
Debate for an intermediate court in the Mountain State isn't new either. The report previously has criticized West Virginia for the court's absence.
West Virginia Supreme Court justices have expressed the view that the new rules of appellate procedure are working.
Since the adoption of the new rules, justices have been issuing a decision in every case, at the very least a memorandum decision, or abbreviated decision on the merits.
The state Chamber of Commerce, which previously expressed interest in the establishment of an intermediate court, said in August the new rules have established an automatic right of appeal.