Justia West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Civil Procedure
NATIONAL UNION FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY OF PITTSBURGH, PA. v. WESTLAKE CHEMICAL CORPORATION
The case in question arose from a multi-million-dollar loss suffered by Westlake Chemical Corporation and Axiall Corporation (the respondents) at their chlorine manufacturing plant in Natrium, West Virginia. The loss occurred when 90 tons of liquid chlorine leaked from a rupture in a railroad tanker car that had been recently repaired by third-party contractors. The liquid chlorine vaporized into a cloud or plume that caused corrosion damage to the equipment at the plant. The respondents claimed the damage costs from their insurance companies (the petitioners). However, the insurance companies denied coverage based on three exclusions in the insurance policies relating to corrosion, faulty workmanship, and contamination. The case reached the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, which was asked to review three orders of the Circuit Court of Marshall County, West Virginia, Business Court Division. The lower court had granted partial summary judgment to the respondents, finding that none of the three exclusions barred the respondents’ coverage claims. The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia concluded that the lower court's orders were not final orders subject to appeal at this stage of the proceedings. This was due to unresolved issues of causation and damages, and because the orders did not conclusively determine the disputed controversy, resolve an important issue completely separate from the merits of the action, or were effectively unreviewable on appeal from a final judgment. Therefore, the court dismissed the appeal, without prejudice. View "NATIONAL UNION FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY OF PITTSBURGH, PA. v. WESTLAKE CHEMICAL CORPORATION" on Justia Law
Kanawha County Board of Education v. S.D.
The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal of the circuit court's orders, the latter of which denied Appellants' motion for summary judgment, in this action alleging that Petitioners acted negligently in their handling of an incident where S.D. was inappropriately touched by a fellow student in the hallway of a high school, holding that the orders appealed from did not present an appealable ruling.In their notice of appeal, Petitioners asserted that the individual defendants were entitled to dismissal pursuant to W. Va. Code 29-12A-5(b)(2) because the order at issue found that the individual defendants did not act maliciously, in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner. Petitioners further contend that the board of education was immune from liability pursuant to W. Va. Code 29-12A-5(a)(4). The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the orders presented in this appeal were interlocutory, did not fall within the collateral order doctrine, and did not otherwise present an appealable ruling. View "Kanawha County Board of Education v. S.D." on Justia Law
Katrib v. Herbert J. Thomas Memorial Hospital Ass’n
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court dismissing Petitioner's complaint stemming from the suspension of his hospital clinical privileges and medical staff membership under W. Va. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), holding that the circuit court did not err.Petitioner, a self-employed physician, held clinical privileges and medical staff membership with Herbert J. Thomas Memorial Hospital Association and Thomas Health System, Inc. (collectively, Thomas Hospital) until they were suspended in 2019. Petitioner brought this action raising claims related to the suspension. The suspension, however, occurred before Thomas Hospital's Chapter 11 bankruptcy confirmation order and reorganization plan. The circuit court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court properly dismissed the complaint. View "Katrib v. Herbert J. Thomas Memorial Hospital Ass'n" on Justia Law
St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co. v. AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp.
The Supreme Court held in this case that the circuit court had the power to enter an order precluding a party to a West Virginia lawsuit from instituting or prosecuting collateral litigation in a sister state.This lawsuit was brought by a pharmaceutical distributor against the insurance companies that provided it with liability insurance. At issue on appeal was the West Virginia circuit court's "anti-suit injunction" prohibiting the insurance companies from pursuing parallel litigation against the distributor in California. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the circuit court clearly had the authority to enter an anti-suit injunction; but (2) an anti-suit injunction was not narrowly tailored to protect the court's authority while respecting the sister state court, necessitating remand. View "St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co. v. AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp." on Justia Law
Metro Tristate, Inc. v. Public Service Commission of W. Va.
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
State, ex rel. 3M Co. v. Hoke
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
Mountaineer Fire & Rescue Equipment, LLC v. City National Bank of West Virginia
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
Bell v. Nicholson Construction Co.
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
State ex rel. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Kansas, Inc. v. Honorable Shawn D. Nines
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
State ex rel. Monster Tree Service, Inc. v. Cramer
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