Opinion

High court ruling a black eye for West Virginia

An editorial from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — In a baffling decision that can only be viewed as a step backward for the Mountain State, the West Virginia Supreme Court has ruled that drug addicts can sue doctors and pharmacies. This nonsensical decision by the high court justices is a slap in the face to the state’s ongoing struggle against prescription drug abuse.

Last week’s ruling comes only months after lawmakers in Charleston passed long-overdue tort reform measures aimed at improving the state’s undesirable legal climate. So much for common sense reform. In their controversial 3-2 decision, the justices ruled that pharmacies and doctors who negligently prescribe pain medication can be sued for enabling people’s addictions. But such a preposterous ruling will only create a more polluted legal environment for West Virginia. And perhaps the justices have forgotten, but West Virginia — and southern West Virginia in particular — is still fighting a daily war against the deadly scourge of prescription drug abuse. And the drug problem has reached epidemic levels in recent years.

But Chief Justice Margaret Workman said a plaintiff’s wrongful or immoral conduct does not prohibit them from seeking damages as the result of the actions of others. The court also wrote that a jury can decide the extent to which the actions of a person engaged in criminal activity contributed to an alleged injury.

Justices Allen Loughry and Menis Ketchum wrote separate dissenting — and correct— opinions in the 3-2 decision .

“There are no even remotely innocent victims here,” Loughry correctly wrote…

 

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