Justia West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Labor & Employment Law
State of West Virginia v. Ballard
Bailey, an RN employed by MMBH, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) psychiatric facility, alleges that he intervened when M.C., a patient with a known history of self-harm, attempted to harm himself. A struggle ensued. M.C. suffered minor injuries. Subsequently, an employee of Legal Aid of West Virginia (LAWV), observed M.C.'s bruising, read the nursing notes, and viewed a security video of the struggle, then filed a referral with Adult Protective Services. MMBH’s Director of Nursing filed a patient grievance form on behalf of M.C. Bailey was suspended. Several witnesses were never interviewed and the report failed to relate M.C.’s history of self-harm. Bailey’s employment was terminated. The Board of Nursing initiated proceedings against his nursing license.The West Virginia Public Employees Grievance Board reinstated Bailey. The Board of Nursing dismissed the complaint against his license. During the investigation, MFCU allegedly made Bailey submit to a “custodial interrogation,” conducted by MFCU employees and a West Virginia Attorney General’s Office lawyer. Bailey was not advised of his Miranda rights. Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) investigator Lyle then referred the matter to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, which filed criminal charges. MMBH again suspended Bailey. The charges were later dismissed.Bailey sued DHHR, MMBH, MFCU, LAWV, and several individuals under 42 U.S.C. 1983 based on unreasonable and unlawful seizure of the person, malicious prosecution, and violation of the Whistle-Blower Law.The West Virginia Supreme Court issued a writ of prohibition. Bailey cannot maintain section 1983 claims against MFCU and Lyle. Bailey’s whistle-blower claim against Lyle is unsustainable because Lyle had no authority over Bailey’s employment. Bailey’s malicious prosecution claim fails to allege sufficient facts to meet the required heightened pleading standard to overcome MFCU’s and Lyle’s qualified immunity. View "State of West Virginia v. Ballard" on Justia Law
Jarell v. Frontier W. Va., Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court dismissing Petitioner's claim alleging that Respondents Frontier West Virginia, Inc. and its supervisory employees wrongfully discharged him after he reported conduct that he alleged violated W. Va. Code 61-3-49b, holding that harm to the public is not required to prove that the offense of crime against property has occurred.Petitioner filed this suit against Frontier for retaliatory discharge. The circuit court granted Frontier's motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim, ruling that Petitioner "failed to allege a substantial public policy supporting a wrongful discharge exception to a non-public employer termination of an employee." The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 61-3-49b does not constitute a substantial public policy to support a Harless claim for wrongful discharge. View "Jarell v. Frontier W. Va., Inc." on Justia Law
Nicewarner v. City of Morgantown
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the order of the circuit court finding that the City of Morgantown had incorrectly calculated compensation for Petitioners, fifty-four current and former firefighters employed by the City, and finding that the compensation required by W. Va. Code 8-15-10a was not a "fringe benefit" or "wage" covered by the Wage Payment and Collection Act (WPCA), holding that the court erred in part.At issue was section 10a, which requires the City to provide extra compensation to firefighters for days designated by the Legislature as legal holidays. The circuit court granted summary judgment in part to the firefighters and in part to the City. In so doing, the court reduced the period of time that currently employed firefighters could recover improperly calculated compensation and imposed the doctrine of laches to deprive former firefighters of any past compensation. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the City incorrectly interpreted section 10a; and (2) section 10a created a fringe or wage benefit for firefighters that was protected by the WPCA. View "Nicewarner v. City of Morgantown" on Justia Law
Hood v. Lincare Holdings, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the West Virginia Workers' Compensation Board of Review affirming an ALJ's denial of Robert Hood's application for workers' compensation benefits, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion.Hood was making a delivery for his employer when he felt a pain in his right knee. The employer's claim administrator denied Hood's application for workers' compensation benefits after concluding that Hood did not sustain an injury in the course of and scope of his employment. An ALJ affirmed, as did the Board of Review. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that although Hood's injury occurred while he was working, it did not result from his employment. View "Hood v. Lincare Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law
Bd. of Education of County of Wyoming v. Dawson
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court affirming the decision of the West Virginia Public Employees Grievance Board granting the grievance brought by Respondent, a school bus driver, reinstating her to a modified bus run and an extracurricular bus run and awarding her back pay, holding that the circuit court erred in affirming the decision of the grievance board.Respondent, a bus driver hired to transport elementary and high school students on the same bus run at the same time, made a modified regular run and vocational run for thirty years. In 2017, Petitioner, the Board of Education of the County of Wyoming, changed Respondent's employment back to the arrangement originally contracted for. Respondent filed a grievance, which the grievance board granted, finding that Petitioner's action in restoring Respondent's regular bus run to its original parameters was unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the grievance board and circuit court were clearly wrong in their determinations and that the circuit court should have found that Respondent did not meet her burden of proof. View "Bd. of Education of County of Wyoming v. Dawson" on Justia Law
State ex rel. Devono v. Honorable Wilmoth
The Supreme Court granted in part and denied in part a writ requested by Petitioners prohibiting the Honorable David H. Wilmoth, Judge of the Circuit Court of Randolph County, from enforcing its order denying Petitioners' motion to dismiss certain claims set forth in the underlying wrongful termination complaint, holding that some of Respondents' claims should have been dismissed.On appeal, Respondents argued that Petitioners failed to exhaust their administrative remedies through the state public employees grievance procedure, W. Va. Code 6C-2-1 to -8, and that other claims were subject to dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The Supreme Court granted the requested writ in part, holding (1) the circuit court erred in denying Respondents' motion to dismiss certain claims; and (2) the remaining claims were not barred by the exhaustion rule and were sufficiently pled to go forward. View "State ex rel. Devono v. Honorable Wilmoth" on Justia Law
Ransom v. Guardian Rehabilitation Services, Inc.
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Employer in this action brought by Employee for wrongful discharge under the West Virginia Business Liability Protection Act and wrongful discharge under Harless v. First National Bank in Fairmont, 246 S.E.2d 270 (W. Va. 1978), holding that questions of material fact remained precluding summary judgment.In granting summary judgment for Employer the circuit court concluded that Employer did not violate the Act and that Employee's Harless claim lacked any basis. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred in concluding that W. Va. Code 61-7-14(d)(1) and 61-7-14(d)(3) conflict with one another and that material issues of fact remained on this issue, requiring remand for further proceedings. View "Ransom v. Guardian Rehabilitation Services, Inc." on Justia Law
Argus Energy, LLC v. Marenko
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the Board of Review (BOR) affirming the finding of the Office of Judges (OOJ) that Respondent's claim for occupational pneumoconiosis benefits against Petitioner was timely, holding that Petitioner was not entitled to relief on its allegations of error.The claims representative for Petitioner's worker's compensation insurance carrier found that Respondent's claim for benefits was filed outside of the pertinent three-year statute of limitations and therefore denied it. The OOJ reversed, ruling that Respondent was not time-barred from filing his claim. Thereafter, the Occupational Pneumoconiosis Board found that Respondent had a ten-percent impairment. The BOR affirmed on the timeliness issue. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the BOR did not clearly err in finding that Respondent filed his occupational pneumoconiosis claim within the three-year limitations period. View "Argus Energy, LLC v. Marenko" 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
Precision Pipeline, LLC v. Weese
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying Defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint brought by Plaintiff for injuries he sustained in the course and scope of his employment with Defendant, holding that the circuit court erred in denying the motion to dismiss.Plaintiff severely injured his left leg while he was employment at a pipeline construction project and received workers' compensation benefits for his injury. Plaintiff brought this complaint alleging negligence, vicarious liability, and negligent hiring, retention, and supervision. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss for failing to state a claim on the ground that it was entitled to workers' compensation immunity. The circuit court denied the petition. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the common law tort claims alleged in Plaintiff's complaint fell within the scope of immunity afforded by West Virginia's Workers' Compensation Act, W. Va. Code 23-2-1 et seq. View "Precision Pipeline, LLC v. Weese" on Justia Law