Justia West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Personal Injury
Boyce v. Monongahela Power Co.
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Respondents, the owners of electrical and communication lines that electrocuted Eugene Boyce (Petitioner), in this negligence action brought by Eugene and his wife Kimberly Boyce, holding that the circuit court did not err.Petitioner was attempting to make a delivery in the course of his employment when he attempted to move overhead communication lines by climbing on top of his truck and wrapping shrink-wrap around the communication lines. The lines were in close proximity to an energized electrical line, which Petitioner contacted and was electrocuted. The circuit court found that Petitioner's actions were negligent and served as the only proximate cause of the incident. The court further found that, even if a issue of fact existed as to Respondents' negligence, Petitioner's actions constituted an intervening and superseding cause of the incident and injuries. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in finding that Petitioner's actions were (1) the sole proximate cause of the incident, and (2) constituted an intervening cause. View "Boyce v. Monongahela Power Co." 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
Westfield Insurance Co. v. Sistersville Tank Works, Inc.
The Supreme Court concluded that under the continuous-trigger theory, when an insurance claim is made by alleging a progressive injury caused by chemical exposure or other analogous toxic, injurious substance, damages that are caused, continuous, or progressively deteriorating throughout successive policy periods are covered by all the occurrence-based policies in effect during those periods.This case involved claims against a standardized commercial general liability (CGL) policy alleging that long-term exposure to chemicals caused a disease to develop over a number of years before being diagnosed. The exposure to the chemicals and the development of the disease, however, happened across numerous CGL policy periods. Insurer denied coverage under its CGL policies and filed a complaint for declaratory relief. The district court granted a judgment in favor of Insured, finding that Insurer owed Insured a duty to defend and indemnify under all of its policies. The Supreme Court answered a certified question that, under the continuous-trigger theory, when a claim is made alleging a progressive injury caused by chemical exposure or other analogous harm, every occurrence-based policy in effect from the initial exposure, through the latency and development period and up to the manifestation of the bodily illness, is triggered and must cover the claim. View "Westfield Insurance Co. v. Sistersville Tank Works, Inc." on Justia Law
Trivett v. Summers County Commission
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the circuit court granting Respondents' motion to dismiss the underlying complaint on the ground that it had not been timely filed and ruling that the two-year statute of limitations contained in the Governmental Tort Claims and Insurance Reform Act, W. Va. Code 29-12A-6(a), applied, holding that the court erred in granting the motion to dismiss.Petitioner, administratrix of the estate of Petitioner's infant son, sued Summers County Office of Emergency Management and its employee Carmen Cales (collectively Respondents), alleging wrongful death. The circuit court granted Respondents' motion to dismiss, ruling that the claims were governed by the Act and that Petitioner's case fell within the two-year statute of limitation set forth in section 29-12A-6(a). The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the circuit court (1) did not err in concluding that the minority tolling provision set forth in section 29-12A-6(b) did not apply to this case; but (2) erred in granting Respondents' motion to dismiss Petitioner's claims on the ground that the statute of limitations had run on the claims. View "Trivett v. Summers County Commission" on Justia Law
Launi v. Hampshire County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court in this case alleging malicious prosecution, civil conspiracy, and abuse of process claims against certain officials involved in Petitioner's prosecution for domestic battery and domestic assault, of which he was acquitted at trial, holding that there was no error.Petitioner Norm Launi II brought claims of malicious prosecution and civil conspiracy against West Virginia State Police Corporal Scott Nazelrod, special prosecuting attorney John Ours, and prosecuting attorney in Hampshire County Dan James and also asserted a claim for abuse of process against Nazelrod. The circuit court dismissed the claims against James and Ours on the basis of absolute prosecutorial immunity and found that Petitioner failed to state valid claims as to Nazelrod. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) properly dismissed the claims against James and Ours based on prosecutorial functions; and (2) did not err in concluding that Petitioner's claims against Nazelrod for malicious prosecution, civil conspiracy, and abuse of process failed on their merits. View "Launi v. Hampshire County Prosecuting Attorney's Office" 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
Toler v. Cornerstone Hospital of Huntington, LLC
The Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the circuit court entering judgment on a jury verdict in favor of Cornerstone Hospital of Huntington, LLC in this lawsuit brought by Petitioner seeking damages for injuries he sustained while visiting a patient at Cornerstone, holding that the circuit court did not err in ruling that the peer review privilege protected Cornerstone's incident report from discovery.At issue was a circuit court order protecting from discovery an incident report in which an employee of Cornerstone described the condition of the patient's room following Petitioner's injury based on the peer review privilege set forth in W. Va. Code 30-3C-1 to -5. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) did not err in ruling that the peer review privilege protected the incident report from discovery because the employee prepared the report exclusively for its own use in its internal quality assurance and facility maintenance review process; and (2) did not err in entering judgment on the jury's verdict because Petitioner failed to rebut Cornerstone's assertion of the peer review privilege. View "Toler v. Cornerstone Hospital of Huntington, LLC" on Justia Law
Gabbert v. Richard T. Coyne Trust
The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the circuit court dismissing Petitioner's complaint seeking declaratory relief regarding the ownership of real property located in Martinsburg, holding that the circuit court did not err in dismissing the complaint.Petitioner brought this complaint seeking a declaratory judgment that she was entitled to ownership of the disputed real property and alleging claims of breach of fiduciary duty, tort of outrage, conversion, and tort damages. The circuit court granted Respondent's motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the facts of this case, Petitioner was not entitled to ownership of the real property or any of its household belongings. View "Gabbert v. Richard T. Coyne Trust" on Justia Law
W. Va. Division of Corrections & Rehabilitation v. Robbins
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the order of the circuit court denying motions to dismiss this tort action brought against correction officers Bryon Whetzel and Isaiah Blancarte and West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DOC), holding that the circuit court erred in denying DOC's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's negligent training and supervision claim.Plaintiff asserted three claims against the officers, including failure to protect and deliberate indifference, and two claims against the DOC - failure to train and adequately supervise and vicarious liability for the violation of his clearly established rights under the Eighth Amendment. In denying Defendants' motions to dismiss, the Supreme Court concluded that Plaintiff alleged sufficient particularized facts to satisfy the heightened pleading requirement. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the circuit court (1) did not err in denying the officers' motions to dismiss; (2) did not err in denying DOC's motion to dismiss the vicarious liability count; but (3) erred in denying DOC's motion to dismiss the negligent training and supervision count because the allegations in the complaint were insufficient to deprive DOC of the immunity from suit that otherwise attaches to its discretionary functions of training and supervising employees. View "W. Va. Division of Corrections & Rehabilitation v. Robbins" on Justia Law
State ex rel. W. Va. Division of Corrections & Rehabilitation v. Honorable Ferguson
The Supreme Court denied a writ of prohibition sought by the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) that would effectively dismiss a wrongful death lawsuit filed against it by Mary Jane McComas, administratrix of the estate of Deanna McDonald, holding that DCR failed to establish that it was entitled to the writ.McComas, as administratrix of McDonald's estate, sued DCR alleging state law and common law claims and causes of action, including intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress and wrongful death. DCR filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the amended complaint asserted claims sounding in medical professional liability under the Medical Professional Liability Act (MPLA) that could not be brought against DCR. The circuit court denied the motion to dismiss, after which DCR filed its writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court denied the requested writ, holding that the MPLA does not apply to DCR, and therefore, the circuit court did not commit clear error as a matter of law in declining to dismiss the amended complaint. View "State ex rel. W. Va. Division of Corrections & Rehabilitation v. Honorable Ferguson" on Justia Law