Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the West Virginia Public Service Commission ruling that its jurisdiction under state law to regulate a company that was operating in West Virginia solely as a contractor for a federal agency was preempted by federal law, holding that there was no error in the Commission's determination.The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the federal agency in this case, was impelled to give the company, Community Pastor Care, LLC (CPC), the subject contract to meet a goal expressed by Congress in 38 U.S.C. 8127(a). Metro Tristate, Inc. filed this case asking that the Commission bar CPC from transporting VA passengers until it received a permit from the Commission. The Commission concluded that its jurisdiction to regulate CPC was preempted by federal law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission correctly determined that its jurisdiction to regulate CPC was preempted by federal law. View "Metro Tristate, Inc. v. Public Service Commission of W. Va." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied Defendants' petition for a writ of prohibition prohibiting the circuit court from enforcing its order permitting the Attorney General to amend a complaint and granting the Attorney General's motion to sever the counts in the complaint for discovery and trial, holding that the circuit court did not err as a matter of law or exceed its legitimate powers.The order at issue permitted the parties to conduct discovery regarding whether the discovery rule tolled the statute of limitation on the Attorney General's claim that Defendants violated the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act (CCPA) and allowed the parties to discover and present evidence on whether Defendants committed multiple violations of the CCPA such that the circuit court might consider imposing multiple penalties. The Supreme Court denied Defendants' petition for a writ of prohibition, holding that the circuit court had jurisdiction and did not exceed its legitimate powers. View "State, ex rel. 3M Co. v. Hoke" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the orders of the circuit court granting Respondents' motions to dismiss, holding that Petitioners' pleading stated a sufficient basis upon which relief could be granted and that Respondents failed to show beyond a reasonable doubt that Petitioners could prove no set of facts in support of their claims that would entitle them to relief.On appeal, Petitioners argued that in granting Respondents' motions to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) the circuit court failed to consider all the Petitioners' factual allegations. Further, Petitioners alleged that for the few allegations it did consider, the circuit court improperly imputed inferences favorable to Respondents. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Respondents failed to establish beyond doubt that Petitioners' pleading did not state a claim upon which relief may be granted; and (2) Petitioners sufficiently alleged a claim for aiding and abetting tortious interference. View "Mountaineer Fire & Rescue Equipment, LLC v. City National Bank of West Virginia" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and dismissed for lack of appellate jurisdiction in part three consolidated appeals from the circuit court's orders relating to the same underlying civil action involving a workplace incident, holding that two of the orders appealed were not final orders.The orders at issue ruled on motions to dismiss filed by several of the parties in the underlying action. The circuit court dismissed claims for deliberate intent and loss of consortium asserted by the plaintiffs and denied several motions to dismiss. These appeals followed. The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court's order dismissing the deliberate intent and loss of consortium claims was correct because the claims were time barred; and (2) the orders being appealed in the remaining two cases were not final and appealable. View "Bell v. Nicholson Construction Co." on Justia Law

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In this original jurisdiction proceeding, the Supreme Court granted a writ of prohibition sought by Petitioners, out-of-state Blue Cross Blue Shield Plans, to prevent the enforcement of the circuit court's order concluding that it had jurisdiction over Petitioners in this action, holding that jurisdiction over Petitioners was clearly not appropriate in this case.Respondent alleged that the circuit court had jurisdiction over Petitioners for several reasons. Petitioners filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, asserting that they had no relevant jurisdictional contacts with West Virginia. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that Petitioners purposefully availed themselves of the privilege of conducting business in West Virginia. Petitioners then filed the instant writ, arguing that any attempt to exercise specific jurisdiction over them violated due process because there was no allegation or evidence showing that they developed or maintained a substantial relationship with West Virginia or purposefully engaged in forum-related conduct that gave rise to Respondent's claims. The Supreme Court granted the writ, holding that Petitioners were entitled to the writ of prohibition. View "State ex rel. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Kansas, Inc. v. Honorable Shawn D. Nines" on Justia Law

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In these two related proceedings the Supreme Court granted the writs of prohibition sought by Monster Tree Service Inc. (Monster, Inc.) and Monster Franchise, LLC to set aside defaults entered against them in the circuit court, holding that the circuit court erred by failing to grant Monster, Inc.'s and Monster Franchise's motions to set aside their defaults.Respondent was injured when he fell from a tree while working for Monster Tree Service of the Upper Ohio Valley, Inc. (Monster UOV), an Ohio corporation. Respondent sustained his injuries in Marshall County, West Virginia. Respondent sued Monster UOV, Monster Franchise, and Monster, Inc. in Marshall County Circuit Court. The circuit court later entered defaults against all defendants. Monster Franchise and Monster, Inc. moved to set aside their defaults. The circuit court denied both motions. The Supreme Court granted both entities' writs of prohibition, holding (1) Respondent's attempt at service on Monster Franchise was ineffective and that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to enter a default judgment against Monster Franchise; and (2) the circuit court committed clear error as a matter of law when it refused to vacate Monster, Inc.'s default. View "State ex rel. Monster Tree Service, Inc. v. Cramer" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted a writ of prohibition sought by Petitioners to halt the litigation of Respondents' breach of contract and related tort claims against them in the Circuit Court of Wyoming County for lack of venue, holding that Respondents failed to meet their burden to demonstrate that venue for their civil action properly lay in Wyoming County.In this action involving an alleged breach of a purchase agreement, Respondents filed a complaint alleging six causes of action against Petitioners. In the complaint, Respondents stated that venue was proper in Wyoming County because the parties conducted business in Wyoming County. Petitioners moved to dismiss for lack of venue, arguing that the operative business relationship between the entities took place entirely within Kanawha County. The circuit court denied the motion to dismiss, and Petitioners filed this petition for a writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court granted the motion to dismiss, holding that Respondents failed to establish proper venue in Wyoming County under the framework of W. Va. Code 56-1-1. View "State ex rel. Ferrell v. Honorable Warren R. McGraw" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied the writ sought by the State Treasurer prohibiting the State Auditor from processing payments to senior-status judges that exceed the per diem rate allowed in W. Va. Code 51-9-10, holding that because there was no actual controversy between the parties the Treasurer was seeking an advisory opinion from the Court.In 2018, the Supreme Court addressed W. Va. Code 51-9-10, which authorized per diem payment to senior-status judges and places an annual limit on a senior-status judge's combined per diem compensation and retirement income. In 2019, the legislature amended the statute to specify a rate of per diem payment to senior-status judges on assignment and to create an exception to the annual limit on compensation in extraordinary circumstances. In the instant action, the Treasurer argued that he was entitled to the requested writ of prohibition because the Auditor will violate section 51-9-10 when he issues a warrant for per diem payment to a senior-status judge that is greater than the daily rate of per diem compensation set forth in the statute. The Supreme Court denied the writ, holding that the petition was not one of the rare proceedings in which this Court must undertake something in the nature of an advisory opinion. View "State ex rel. Perdue v. McCuskey" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the order of the circuit court granting Plaintiff's writ of prohibition to stay further hearing on the revocation of his driver's license, holding that the circuit court lacked subject matter jurisdiction and should have dismissed the petition for writ of prohibition.In response to Plaintiff's petition filed in the Circuit Court of Monongalia County, the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) asserted that the circuit court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because jurisdiction for extraordinary writs related to records maintained by the DMV is only proper in Kanawha County. The circuit court granted the writ of prohibition, concluding that the Legislature's recent amendment to W. Va. Code 14-2-2 made jurisdiction proper in Monongalia County. The Supreme Court held that the circuit court's order was void because section 14-2-2 is a venue statute and W. Va. Code 53-1-2 governs subject matter jurisdiction. View "Holley v. Feagley" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court denying Petitioner's motion to set aside a default judgment entered against him, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in denying Petitioner's motion to set aside the default judgment.Respondent filed a breach of contract claim against Petitioner for allegedly failing to pay insurance premiums. Petitioner did not respond to Respondent's properly served complaint, and Respondent obtained a default judgment against him. Nearly sixteen months later, Petitioner filed a motion to set aside the default judgment on the grounds that he was not a proper party to the action. The circuit court denied the motion as untimely because the grounds on which Petitioner sought to have the judgment set aside were subject to a one-year limitation period under W. Va. Rule 60(b). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Petitioner's grounds to set aside the judgment were untimely under Rule 60(b); and (2) while void judgments are not subject to the strict time frame set forth in Rule 60(b), the circuit court did not lack personal jurisdiction over Petitioner so as to render the judgment void. View "Amoruso v. Commerce & Industry Insurance Co." on Justia Law