Justia West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Personal Injury
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court applying this Court's decision in State ex rel. AMFM, LLC v. King, 740 S.E.2d 66 (W. Va. 2013), to conclude that Respondent lacked authority to bind her mother to an arbitration agreement, holding that there was no error.Respondent admitted her mother to The Villages at Greystone, an assisted living residence, when Respondent was not her mother's attorney-in-fact. In her capacity as her mother's medical surrogate Respondent completed on her mother's behalf a residency agreement and an arbitration agreement. Respondent later sued Petitioners, alleging that her mother had suffered injuries while a resident of Greystone due to Petitioners' negligence. Petitioners filed a motion to arbitrate the claim, but the circuit court denied the motion, concluding that no valid arbitration agreement existed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Petitioners failed to establish a valid agreement to arbitrate on the facts of this case. View "Beckley Health Partners, Ltd. v. Hoover" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant, Paramount Senior Living at Ona, LLC, and dismissing Plaintiff's complaint alleging that Paramount, which operated a senior care care, was responsible as a successor corporation for alleged wrongful conduct by Passage Midland Meadows Operations, an LLC that previously operated the home when Thelma Sturgeon was there, holding that there was no error.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) did not err by applying and expanding the general rule in Davis v. Celotex Corp., 420 S.E.2d 557 (W. Va. 1992) that "the purchaser of all the assets of a corporation is not liable for the debts or liabilities of the corporation purchased" in determining that Paramount was not liable as a successor corporation; and (2) did not err in concluding that the case was ripe for summary judgment. View "Milmoe v. Paramount Senior Living at Ona, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of circuit court denying in part Petitioners' motions for summary judgment asserting that they were entitled to qualified immunity, holding that the circuit court correctly denied, in part, the motions for summary judgment on the ground that there remained outstanding issues of material fact.After a suspicious fire damaged the home of Respondents Tammy and Michael Wratchford Petitioner Ronald Ayersman, in his official capacity as an assistant state fire marshal, investigated the fire on behalf of Petitioner West Virginia State Fire Marshal's Office, after which Ayersman concluded that the fire was caused by arson committed by Tammy. A grand jury, however, declined to indict Tammy, and she Michael subsequently brought this suit alleging, inter alia, negligence, violations of the West Virginia Governmental Ethics Act, and tortious interference. Petitioners moved for summary judgment. The district court denied the motions in part. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court correctly denied in part the summary judgment motions on the ground that there remained outstanding issues of material fact. View "Ayersman v. Wratchford" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Board of Review affirming the decision of the Office of Judges denying Appellant's request to add C5-6 spondylosis with C6 radiculopathy as a compensable condition, holding that Appellant was entitled to a permanent partial disability award.Appellant suffered a compensable injury to his shoulder, neck and back while working for Respondent. After the injury, Appellant developed cervical radiculopathy. At issue was whether cervical radiculopathy should be added as a compensable condition of Appellant's claim. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded this case with directions to add cervical radiculopathy as a compensable condition, holding that Appellant proved a causal connection between his compensable injury and his cervical radiculopathy. View "Moore v. ICG Tygart Valley, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the portion of the circuit court's order granting Respondent's motion to dismiss this Petitioners' claims asserting, inter alia, medical negligence, res ipsa loquitur, and loss of consortium, but vacated the court's decision to grant the dismissal with prejudice, holding that the court erred in dismissing the action with prejudice.At issue on appeal was whether Petitioners' failure to serve a screening certificate of merit upon Respondent before filing their complaint warranted a dismissal of Petitioners' complaint with prejudice. The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to proceed in this case due to Petitioners' failure to comply with the pre-suit notice requirements of the West Virginia Medical Professional Liability Act, W. Va. Code 55-7B-6; and (2) therefore, the circuit court properly dismissed the civil action, but erred in dismissing it with prejudice. View "Tanner v. Raybuck" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs - Christine Brehm and Amber Hess - in these suits for declarations of coverage against Progressive Max Insurance Company, holding that the circuit court erred in its grant of summary judgment.Plaintiffs were passengers in a Toyota Camry, a rental vehicle operated by Susan Bindernagel, when another driver crashed into the Camry. Bindernagel's insurer, Progressive, denied underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage because the rental vehicle was not a "covered auto" under the policy. The circuit court found that because Plaintiffs had been Bindernagel's guest passengers in the rental car when the crash occurred they were entitled to UIM coverage. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that neither the clear statutory language nor the terms of the insurance policy specifically provided for UIM coverage to those in Plaintiffs' position. View "Progressive Max Insurance Co. v. Brehm" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted a writ of prohibition sought by Petitioner to prohibit the circuit court from enforcing its order to strike the notice it received pursuant to W. Va. Code 55-7-13d regarding Respondent's belief that some or all of the fault in the matter should be assigned to the Monongalia County Commission, holding that Petitioner was entitled to the writ.Respondent was employed by the County Commission when he was injured his work. After resolving his workers' compensation claim Respondent sued Petitioner for further compensation. Thereafter, Petitioner filed the motion at issue. The circuit court granted Respondent's motion to strike the notice, concluding that fault could not be assigned to the County Commission, and, alternatively, that Petitioner failed to allege deliberate intention on the part of the County Commission. The Supreme Court granted Petitioner's petition for a writ of prohibition, holding (1) the circuit court committed clear error in ruling that the County Commission could not be named as a nonparty defendant under W.Va. Code 55-7-13d; and (2) section 55-7-13d did not require Petitioner to meet the deliberate-intention standard in order for fault to be assigned to the County Commission. View "State ex rel. March-Westin Co. v. Honorable Phillip D. Gaujot" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the order of the circuit court dismissing Petitioner's claim against Respondent for defamation, holding that Petitioner's allegation that Respondent made the supposed defamatory statement maliciously precluded dismissal of Petitioner's claim under W. Va. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).Petitioner, a patrolman with the Town of Belle's Police Department, brought this complaint alleging that Respondent had made a defamatory statement against him, knew the statement was false, and made the statement intending to harm Petitioner's reputation. The circuit court dismissed the defamation claim on grounds of qualified privilege. The Supreme Court reversed the portion of the order dismissing the defamation claim against Respondent, individually, holding that it was error to find that Respondent acted in good faith, despite Petitioner's clear allegation to the contrary, and so to dismiss Petitioner's defamation claim against Respondent. View "Haught v. Fletcher" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Supreme Court granted as moulded a writ of prohibition challenging the rulings of the circuit court denying West Virginia University Hospitals, Inc.'s (WVUH) petition for declaratory judgment and WVUH's motion to dismiss Respondents' amended complaint, holding that the circuit court committed clear legal error.Respondents filed a complaint alleging corporate negligence and other claims against WVUH. WVUH filed a combined answer and petition for declaratory judgment asking the circuit court to declare that the West Virginia Medical Professional Liability Act, W. Va. Code 55-7B-1 to -12 (MPLA) applied to Respondents' corporate negligence allegations. Before the circuit court ruled on the petition for declaratory judgment, Respondents filed an amended complaint adding new corporate negligence claims but did not fulfill the MPLA's pre-suit notice requirements. At issue was the circuit court's denial of both WVUH's petition for declaratory judgment and motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court granted a writ of prohibition, holding (1) the circuit court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the corporate negligence claims added in the amended complaint due to Respondents' failure to comply with the MPLA's pre-suit notice requirements for these claims; and (2) litigation of the corporate negligence claims that were asserted in the original complaint, and for which the pre-suit notice requirements were satisfied, were governed by the MPLA. View "State ex rel. W. Va. University Hospitals, Inc. v. Honorable Scott" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court granting judgment as a matter of law in favor of Mutual Benefit Group and against Eric Parks in this action brought by Mutual Benefit as a result of an automobile accident, holding that the circuit court erred.Mutual Benefit brought this action to recover monies it paid in another action stemming from an automobile accident involving Parks. The magistrate court found in favor of Mutual Benefit. After a trial de novo, the circuit court granted judgment as a matter of law to Mutual Benefit on the grounds that Parks had failed to respond to requests for admissions that Mutual Benefit had served upon him in the magistrate court. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that the West Virginia Rules of Civil Procedure for Magistrate Courts provide the exclusive means of discovery in magistrate courts and do not provide for parties to serve requests for admission. View "Parks v. Mutual Benefit Group" on Justia Law