Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court denied Garland DeCourcy’s petition for writ of prohibition seeking to prohibit the circuit court from proceeding in this action brought by William Williams to recover a computer, telephone system, and keys to a vehicle from DeCourcy. After a bench trial in magistrate court, DeCourcy was ordered to return certain property to Williams. DeCourcy appealed and filed a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that Williams could not meet his burden of proof because the evidence should be limited to the evidence presented to the magistrate court. The circuit court ruled that a trial de novo authorized it to consider additional evidence, including witness testimony not presented in magistrate court. DeCourcy then filed this petition for writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court denied the writ, holding (1) an appeal of a civil action tried before a magistrate without a jury under W. Va. Code 50-5-12(b) shall be a trial de novo, meaning a new trial in which the parties may present new evidence including witness testimony not presented in magistrate court; and (2) the circuit court did not err in its determination that new evidence, including witness testimony, was proper in this appeal from magistrate court. View "State ex rel. DeCourcy v. Honorable Jennifer P. Dent" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether the City of Fairmont, which entered into a lease purchase agreement for equipment with Comvest, Ltd., may assert claims and defenses against Blue Ridge Bank - to whom Comvest assigned its interest in the lease purchase agreement, including its right to the City’s monthly payments - based on Comvest’s conversion of funds designated for the purchase of the equipment. The Supreme Court held (1) the Bank took its assignment subject to the City’s claims and defenses arising from Comvest’s breach of the lease purchase agreement; and (2) therefore, the City may assert claims and defenses against the Bank based on Comvest’s conversion. View "Blue Ridge Bank, Inc. v. City of Fairmont" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court denying Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital Corporation’s (Hospital) motion to dismiss Dr. Tuan Nguyen’s (Physician) claims alleging that the Hospital discriminated and retaliated against him for reporting patient safety concerns. The Hospital sought dismissal under W. Va. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), arguing that Physician’s claims were linked to its decision not to reappoint him to its medical staff, and therefore, it enjoyed qualified immunity pursuant to Mahmoodian v. United Hospital Center, Inc., 404 S.E. 2d 750 (W. Va. 1991). The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Physician’s claims were distinguishable from Mahmoodian; and (2) accordingly, Physician sufficiently pled his causes of action to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. View "Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital Corp. v. Nguyen" on Justia Law

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Petitioners, former shareholders of Kay Company and Kay Co., LLC, appealed orders entered by the circuit court in which summary judgment was granted to Respondent, Petitioners’ former legal counsel, in connection with claims Petitioners filed against Respondent. Petitioners challenged the circuit court’s (1) ruling that a settlement reached by all but one of Petitioners with the IRS prevented them from establishing causation and damages on any of their claims, (2) finding that there were no factual issues in need of resolution, and (3) ruling that the lack of settlement with the IRS precluded Jennie Graham, executrix of the estate of James Graham, prevented her from asserting claims against Respondent. The Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) erred in reasoning that the settlement with the IRS prohibited Petitioners from going forward on all of their claims; (2) erred in ruling that the lack of a settlement with the IRS precluded Graham from asserting any claims against Respondent; and (3) did not err in its rulings with regard to detrimental reliance and joint venture. The Supreme Court remanded this matter to the circuit court to permit Petitioners to proceed on their claims of legal malpractice, negligent misrepresentation, and fraud. View "Kay v. McGuireWoods, LLP" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court answered three certified questions regarding the applicability of the West Virginia Governmental Tort Claims and Insurance Reform Act to claims made by an individual injured while attending the Mason County Fair by determining that either the immunity provisions of the Act or the public duty doctrine operated to prevent Petitioners from seeking liability against the Mason County Commission under the facts of this case. Petitioners alleged that the Commission was negligent for its alleged failure to prevent one of the petitioners from being insured at the fair. In support of their claims, Petitioner alleged that the Mason County Fair, Inc. and the Commission were engaged in a joint venture with regarding to the operation of the annual fair, and therefore, the Commission owed a duty to Petitioners that exceeded any general duty owed by any law enforcement agency to the public at large. The circuit court certified questions of law to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered each of the reframed certified questions in the negative, holding that Petitioners could not succeed against the Commission on any of their theories. View "Pyles v. Mason County Fair, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Petitioner, by and through her mother and next friend, was one of nineteen minor plaintiffs who alleged that they sustained birth defects as a result of their mothers’ use of the prescription medication Zoloft. The Mass Litigation Panel granted summary judgment to Respondents - Pfizer, Inc., Roerig, a division of Pfizer, Inc., and Greenstone, LLC - upon concluding that there existed no genuine issue of material fact and that Pfizer was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Panel correctly concluded that (1) Michigan law governed Petitioner’s claims; (2) federal law operated to preempt the exception to Michigan’s failure to warn immunity where Zoloft has received FDA approval; (3) no genuine issues of material fact remained in the case; and (4) Respondents were entitled to judgment as a matter of law. View "M.M. v. Pfizer, Inc." on Justia Law

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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