Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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Respondents filed an amended complaint joining separate claims of seventy-nine individual plaintiffs, who alleged that they or their family members were injured by exposure to Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) generated at the General James M. Gavin Power Plant and disposed of at the associated Gavin Landfill (collectively, Gavin Landfill). Twelve plaintiffs (the NWDC Plaintiffs) alleged that they suffered injury as a result of take-home exposure to CCR. The Mass Litigation Panel (MLP) denied Petitioners’ motion to dismiss the claims of the NWDC Plaintiffs, concluding that the doctrine of lex loci delicti required the application of Ohio law to the claims of the NWDC Plaintiffs. The court further found that the application of the Ohio Mixed Dust Statute was contrary to the public policy of West Virginia and, applying West Virginia’s public policy exception to the rule of lex loci delicti, declined to apply Ohio law to the NWDC Plaintiffs’ claims. The Supreme Court granted Petitioners’ requested writ of prohibition, holding that the MLP’s application of the public policy exception to the doctrine of lex loci delicti was clearly erroneous in this case, and therefore, under Ohio’s Mixed Dust Statute, Petitioners’ motion to dismiss should have been granted as to the twelve NWDC Plaintiffs. View "State ex rel. American Electric Power Co. v. Hon. Derek C. Swope" on Justia Law

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Petitioners, nine minors and their parents, individually and as parents, guardians and next friends, filed this action alleging various claims for, inter alia, negligence, fraud, and civil conspiracy arising from Michael Jensen’s known and alleged sexual abuse of the minor plaintiffs. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Unidentified Defendant-1 (UD-1), against whom conspiracy was asserted, and then granted several of Defendants’ motions in limine, which eliminated much of Plaintiffs’ circumstantial evidence in support of their conspiracy claim. The circuit court then granted summary judgment on Plaintiffs’ conspiracy claim in favor of “the Church Defendants” and in favor of Christopher and Sandralee Jensen, Michael’s parents. The Supreme Court reversed the summary judgments and in limine rulings and remanded this action for further proceedings, holding (1) the circuit court erred in excluding Plaintiffs’ circumstantial evidence in support of their conspiracy claim; (2) there were genuine issues of material fact for trial in regard to the conspiracy claim against the Church Defendants and the Jensen Parents; and (3) the circuit court erred in finding that Plaintiffs could not prove the elements of conspiracy against UD-1. View "Jane Doe-1 v. Corp. of President of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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In this wrongful death action arising from an automobile accident, Defendants - Robert Jackson and the Joelynn Family Preservation Trust - appealed from an order of the circuit court denying their motion for a new trial following a jury verdict favor of Plaintiff. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the circuit court’s ruling granting summary judgment to Plaintiff on the issue of Jackson’s liability for causing the automobile accident; (2) reversed the circuit court’s denial of Jackson’s post-trial motion for judgment as a matter of law on the issue of the Trust’s liability, as Jackson was not “in the course of administering” the Trust when the automobile accident occurred; and (3) affirmed the circuit court’s award of prejudgment interest on Plaintiff’s award for lost wages. View "Jackson v. Brown" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Plaintiff, as administratrix of the estate of her late husband, filed a complaint against Monroe County alleging negligence in performing statutory duties, thereby allowing vicious dogs to remain at large, and wrongful death. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the County based upon the court’s conclusion that the evidence was insufficient to establish a disputed issue of material fact in relation to the special relationship exception to the public duty doctrine. The court then entered, sua sponte, an order summarily dismissing all of Plaintiff’s remaining claims against the County. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) because there was disputed evidence on each of the factors required to establish the special relationship exception to the public duty doctrine, the the circuit court erred in granting summary judgment to the County; and (2) because the summary judgment order upon which the dismissal order was apparently based was dismissed, likewise, the circuit court’s dismissal order is vacated. View "Bowden v. Monroe County Commission" on Justia Law

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After the West Virginia Department of Education (DOE) terminated Plaintiff’s employment, Plaintiff filed a complaint containing a constitutional tort claim and a claim for wrongful termination. Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that the DOE leaked a letter it received from her previous government employer revealing that she was under investigation for misallocating public funds for personal use and that the leak of this letter violated her constitutionally-protected liberty interest. The circuit court denied the DOE’s motion to dismiss based on qualified immunity. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Plaintiff failed to outline a liberty interest violation sufficient to overcome the DOE’s qualified immunity because the truth of the allegedly leaked letter was not disputed; and (2) therefore, the DOE’s qualified immunity barred Plaintiff’s claims. View "West Virginia Department of Education v. McGraw" on Justia Law

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Shane Marcum, who was being held on felony charges, allegedly sustained injuries during a cell extraction. Marcum filed a civil action against the West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority (the Regional Jail). The proceeding was removed to federal court. During the federal court proceeding, Marcum requested, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, a copy of a videotape that recorded his cell extraction. The Regional Jail refused to turn over the videotape, arguing that it was exempt under W. Va. Code 29B-1-4(a)(2) and (19). Marcum then filed a complaint for preliminary injunction and declaratory relief against the Regional Jail seeking a court order requiring the regional Jail to produce the cell extraction videotape. The circuit court entered an order requiring the Regional Jail to turn over the videotape to Marcum. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) pursuant to section 29B-1-4(a)(19), disclosure of a videotape of the cell extraction of an inmate is prohibited; and (2) therefore, the circuit court committed clear error in ordering the disclosure of the cell extraction videotape. View "W. Va. Regional Jail & Correctional Facility v. Marcum" on Justia Law

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Andrew Minnich visited the South Charleston MedExpress to seek medical care. During his attempt to access an examination table, Andrew, who had recently undergone hip surgery, fell and sustained injuries. Andrew died ninety days later. Thereafter, Joyce Minnich filed a complaint against Medexpress Urgent Care, Inc. (MedExpress), alleging, inter alia, negligence based on premises liability. The circuit court granted summary judgment for MedExpress as to the premises liability claim and directed Petitioner to amend her complaint to plead a medical malpractice claim compliant with the filing requirements of the West Virginia Medical Professional Liability Act (MPLA). Petitioner appealed, arguing that the MPLA did not apply because Andrew was not treated by a “health care provider” prior to his fall within the MedExpress within the facility. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a “health care provider,” as defined by the MPLA, did provide health care related services to Andrew prior to his fall, and therefore, the circuit court did not err in deciding that the MPLA applied to this case. View "Minnich v. MedExpress Urgent Care, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, the daughters and wife of the decedent, filed an action against the State Police, alleging that State Police employees were liable for the wrongful death of the decedent and that they negligently or recklessly mishandled the decedent’s remains. The State police filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the actions of the State Police employees were discretionary acts protected by the doctrine of qualified immunity. The circuit court denied the motion, determining (1) the duties of the State Police employees were not discretionary but, rather, were ministerial; and (2) the employees had taken on a special duty toward Plaintiffs and, therefore, could be liable for negligently breaching that duty. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the State Police was entitled to qualified immunity to protect the discretionary acts of its employees. Remanded for entry of summary judgment in favor of the State Police and its employees. View "W. Va. State Police v. Hughes" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Plaintiff, a registered nurse, was hired in 2008 by the defendant hospital. In 2009, Plaintiff was fired. Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant, alleging retaliatory discharge, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and a violation of the West Virginia Wage Payment and Collection Act. The jury found that Defendant wrongfully discharged Plaintiff in a manner designed to undermine public policy and, as a result, Defendant had intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon Plaintiff and had defamed her. Further, the jury found that Defendant failed to pay Plaintiff her full wages. The Supreme Court reversed the jury verdict against Defendant, holding (1) there was insufficient evidence to support the verdict on the wrongful discharge and intentional infliction of emotional distress counts; (2) Plaintiff’s claim for defamation was barred by the applicable statute of limitation; and (3) the circuit court’s conduct and rulings during trial undermined the reliability of the jury’s verdict on unpaid wages. View "Herbert J. Thomas Memorial Hospital Ass’n v. Nutter" on Justia Law

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Respondent David King, as administrator of the estate of Wilma Ann King, brought an action against the West Virginia Department of Transportation, Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) alleging that the DMV was negligent in approving the driver’s license application of the driver who killed Wilma King in an automobile accident without first submitting the driver’s medical information to the Driver’s Licensing Advisory Board (advisory board). The DMV filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that it was entitled to qualified immunity on the basis that referral to the advisory board is discretionary. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that referral is nondiscretionary, and therefore, there was no qualified immunity. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the governmental act or omission that gave rise to Respondent’s action against the DMV constituted a discretionary governmental function, and therefore, the DMV was immune to Respondent’s action. View "Department of Transportation v. King" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury