Articles Posted in Commercial Law

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L.A. Pipeline Construction Company, an Ohio corporation, admitted liability for failing to fully pay some of its employees - a group of engineers who worked on a pipeline job in West Virginia. L.A. Pipeline sought to avoid paying on that liability by claiming that a wage bond securing its employees’ wages had expired. Specifically, L.A. Pipeline asserted that a “Perpetual Irrevocable Letter of Credit/Wage Bond” that it obtained pursuant to the West Virginia Wage Payment Collection Act’s (WPCA) wage bond requirement was no longer in effect. The federal district court certified a question on the letter of credit/wage bond’s duration to the Supreme Court. Noting that the letter of credit/wage bond’s duration was governed by the WPCA and the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), the Court answered (1) to the extent they conflict, the WPCA prevails over the UCC on the duration of a letter of credit/wage bond obtained pursuant to the WPCA; and (2) therefore, under West Virginia law, the letter of credit/wage bond at issue in this case remains in effect until terminated with the approval of the Commissioner of the Division of Labor. View "Int’l Union of Operating Engineers v. L.A. Pipeline Constr. Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, Appalachian Leasing, Inc., purchased four coal trucks from Defendants, Mack Trucks, Inc. and Worldwide Equipment, Inc.. Claiming that each of the trucks were defective, Plaintiff filed a complaint grounded on Article 2 of the West Virginia Uniform Commercial Code, alleging that Defendants breached both express and implied warranties relating to the four trucks. For relief, Plaintiff sought revocation of acceptance of the vehicles, a refund of the purchase price, and incidental and consequential damages. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants, concluding that Defendants had satisfied their obligations under the trucks’ express warranty and that the implied warranties had been disclaimed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that although the implied warranties were validly disclaimed, genuine issues of material fact existed concerning whether Defendants satisfied their obligations under the trucks’ express warranty. Remanded. View "Appalachian Leasing, Inc. v. Mack Trucks, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Commercial Law

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The Davises failed to pay the real estate tax for their property, resulting in a statutory tax. The Davises then filed a petition for bankruptcy, which was granted. Subsequently, the sheriff sold the tax lien. After the statutory time period that the Davises could redeem the property had passed and the property remained unredeemed, the tax lien purchaser received a tax deed conveying the Davises' property. The trial court set aside the tax deed, concluding that the tax lien sale should not have been held because the Davises had been in bankruptcy and because the sheriff did not give sufficient notice to the Davises of the tax delinquency, lien, and sale. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court erred (1) in considering issues relating to the sufficiency of the sheriff's service of the notices; (2) in considering the sheriff's pre-sale notices to the Davises, as only the post-sale notice to redeem is relevant in a lawsuit to set aside a tax deed; and (3) by granting judgment without making sufficient findings of fact and conclusions of law as to the effect the Davises' bankruptcy had on the tax lien. Remanded. View "Rebuild America, Inc. v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The Racing Commission suspended certain jockeys' occupational permits for thirty days and imposed fines for the jockeys' failure to declare an overweight amount. Afterwards, PNGI Charles Town Gaming (PNGI), a non-party in the underlying action, excluded the jockeys from its facility. The circuit court (1) entered an injunction and stayed the imposition of sanctions by the Racing Commission until the conclusion of a hearing before the Commission; and (2) extended the injunction and the stay to include PNGI, preventing PNGI from excluding the jockeys from PGNI's premises pending the outcome of the jockeys' administrative appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) an ejection of a permit holder by a racing association or its stewards is subject to review by the Commission, and therefore, the jockeys, as permit holders, had the right to appeal the ejection, and PNGI was bound by the Commission's decision, subject to judicial review; and (2) PNGI waived its assigned errors regarding the injunction and stay. View "PNGI Charles Town Gaming, LLC v. Reynolds" on Justia Law

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First National Keystone Bank retained an independent accounting firm to audit its records at a time that members of the bank's management were fraudulently concealing the bank's financial condition. The accounting firm issued a clean audit concerning the bank. It was later discovered that the bank had overstated its assets by over $500 million. Upon investigation, the FDIC concluded that the law firm that represented the bank had engaged in legal malpractice. The FDIC settled its claims against the law firm. The accounting firm was later found liable to the FDIC in federal district court for a negligent bank audit. The accounting firm subsequently sued the law firm, alleging fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and tortious interference with the accounting firm's contract to perform the audit. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the law firm. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the claims of the accounting firm against the law firm were, in reality, contribution claims rather than direct or independent claims and were, therefore, barred by the settlement agreement between the law firm and the FDIC. View "Grant Thornton, LLP v. Kutak Rock, LLP" on Justia Law

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Petitioner power companies sought a writ of prohibition in connection with a ruling of the circuit court denying petitioners' motion to dismiss a breach of contract complaint filed against them by respondents, Shell Equipment and Shell Energy, as being barred by the statute of limitations. Petitioners argued that the trial court erred in ruling that the limitations period applicable to contracts for the sale of goods under the UCC does not apply to the coal sales agreement they entered into with Shell Equipment. The Supreme Court granted the writ of prohibition, finding that petitioners demonstrated clear legal error for which they were entitled to relief. The Court determined that the subject agreement constituted a sale of goods under W.V. Code 46-2-107(1), and, as a result, the four-year statute of limitations established by the UCC for the sales of goods was controlling. Because respondents did not initiate the lawsuit until after the limitations period had expired, the trial court committed error in failing to grant petitioners' motion to dismiss. View "SER Monongahela Power, et al. v. Circuit Court of Marion County, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs William and Connie Huston sought to enforce the terms of a global class action settlement agreement in the circuit court when defendants Mercedes-Benz and Smith Motor Cars allegedly refused to repair the plaintiffs' sports utility vehicle in accordance with the settlement agreement. The defendants moved to dismiss, claiming that the circuit court did not have jurisdiction to adjudicate the Hustons' claims. The circuit court certified to the Supreme Court the question of the circuit court's authority to adjudicate the plaintiffs' lawsuit against the defendants. The Supreme Court concluded that the circuit court did not have jurisdiction to consider the plaintiffs' lawsuit because continuing jurisdiction over the settlement agreement had been retained by the federal district court where the global class action settlement agreement was originally reached. As such, the plaintiffs could not properly maintain their suit against the defendants in the circuit court. View "Huston, et al. v. Mercedes-Benz USA, L.L.C., et al." on Justia Law

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In 2010, a professional debt collector began aggressively attempting to collect a deficiency balance Linda Barr allegedly owed to a bank on a motorcycle loan. According to Barr, the debt collector, among other tactics, misrepresented facts to her and improperly accessed and used information from Barr's and her husband's credit report. Barr filed a complaint against the bank and the debt collector, alleging violations of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act. The debt collector moved to dismiss. The district court certified the question of whether a consumer has a private cause of action against a professional debt collector who has engaged in debt collection practices that are prohibited under the Act to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court held that the Act does provide a consumer with such a cause of action. View "Barr v. NCB Management Services, et al." on Justia Law