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The circuit court did not err in refusing to dismiss a former employee’s failure to rehire claim, filed only nine months after the alleged failure to rehire, because the claim was not barred by the relevant statute of limitation. Plaintiff, who worked for Defendants, surface coal mine operators, was excused from work due to serious heart problems. Defendants later “idled” the surface mine and dismissed all employees from work. When Defendants again began mining coal, Plaintiff sought to be re-employed by Defendants but was not rehired. Nine months after being denied reemployment, Plaintiff filed suit against Defendants, alleging that Defendants’ failure to re-employ him were based upon his age and disability in violation of the West Virginia Human Rights Act. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss. The circuit court found that Plaintiff’s complaint contained allegations of both wrongful termination and failure to hire and dismissed Plaintiff’s wrongful termination claim as time-barred. The court, however, concluded that the failure to rehire claim was not barred by the statute of limitation because it was a separate and new act of discrimination. The Supreme Court denied Defendants’ request for a writ of prohibition, holding that the circuit court did not err in denying Defendants’ motions to dismiss Plaintiff’s claim for failure to rehire. View "State ex rel. Raven Crest Contracting, LLC v. Honorable William S. Thompson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted the State’s petition for writ of prohibition seeking to prevent enforcement of the circuit court’s order suspending Demetrius Moore’s sentence, holding that the circuit court improperly applied sentencing credit for time served on a prior, unrelated charge. Moore was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of two to fifteen years in connection with his plea of guilty to one count of delivery of a controlled substance and second offense felony recidivism. Moore filed a motion for reconsideration seeking to have his sentence suspended. The circuit court ultimately granted the motion and applied credit for time served for a prior, unrelated domestic battery charge. The Supreme Court granted the State’s requested writ, holding (1) W. Va. Code 61-11-24 allows for the granting of credit for time served only on a sentence imposed by the court for the term of confinement “awaiting such trial and conviction”; and (2) in this case, the circuit court directly contradicted the language of the statute and court precedent. View "State ex rel. State v. Honorable David J. Sims" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court awarding guardianship of A.C., a twelve-year-old girl, to A.C.’s grandmother, A.H. Petitioner, A.C., through her guardian ad litem, objected to the guardianship award and subsequently appealed, arguing that the circuit court’s award of guardianship to the grandmother was not in the child’s best interests and failed to include an appropriate evaluation of the Guardianship Screening Factors enumerated in Rule 10 of the West Virginia Rules of Practice and Procedure for Minor Guardianship Proceedings. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed, holding that the Guardianship Screening Factors, when applied to the facts of this case, indicated that the grandmother was not a viable candidate to serve as guardian to A.C. The court remanded the matter for entry of an order awarding guardianship to E.B., the godmother of A.C. View "In re Guardianship of A.C." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s order invaliding the arbitration provision at issue in this case involving an oil and gas lease and remanded with directions that the case be dismissed and referred to arbitration. Petitioner and Respondents were parties to an oil and gas lease that included an arbitration provision. Respondents sued Petitioner, seeking to recover payments to which they claimed to be entitled under the lease and various other damages. Petitioner filed a motion to compel arbitration, relying on the arbitration provision in the lease. The circuit court denied Petitioner’s motion to compel arbitration, finding ambiguity in the lease’s arbitration provision. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the circuit court erred in going outside of the provisions in the arbitration clause to find language to create an ambiguity; and (2) the arbitration provision was not ambiguous and therefore should be enforced. View "SWN Production Co. v. Long" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether double jeopardy principles were violated by Petitioners’ respective convictions for three counts of robbery in the first degree. Petitioners, three defendants, were tried together before a jury. Each was convicted on charges of one count of burglary, three counts of robbery in the first degree, three counts of assault during the commission of a felony, and one count of conspiracy. The Supreme Court reversed Petitioners’ respective sentencing orders and remanded the cases to the circuit court for entry of new sentencing orders, holding that, under the facts of this case, Petitioners should have been indicted, tried and convicted on only a single count of robbery in the first degree. View "State v. Henson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s summary judgment determination that an option agreement was supported by consideration and that the option price of $50,000 would be used in calculating the decedent’s wife’s elective share. After the decedent died without a will, a dispute arose between the decedent’s son and the decedent’s wife of more than thirty years about the disposition of the decedent’s one-half interest in the partnership he formed with his son. The son argued that he had a valid contractual option to purchase the decedent’s entire one-half interest in the partnership for $50,000 according to an option agreement executed between the father and son. The wife argued that her elective share should be based upon the full value of the partnership, which she valued at approximately $1 million. The Supreme Court agreed, holding (1) the option agreement was testamentary in nature, executed in the guise of a partnership agreement; (2) the option agreement contradicted the public policies and principles of the elective share statutory scheme and was unenforceable against the wife for the purposes of determining her elective share; and (3) the wife was entitled to her elective share of the decedent’s augmented estate, which included the value of the decedent’s undivided one-half interest in the partnership. View "Young v. Young" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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A parent who had court-appointed counsel in an abuse and neglect proceeding was not entitled to representation by court-appointed counsel once the abuse and neglect proceeding was dismissed and further action was brought in a domestic relations case. The Supreme Court held that, in this case, the circuit court correctly determined that because it had dismissed the abuse and neglect proceeding, Father was no longer entitled to court-appointed counsel to resolve a motion for custody, as the proceeding was a domestic relations case. The court, however, reversed the circuit court’s decision to continue the appointment of the guardian ad litem for the children in the domestic relations proceeding, holding (1) pursuant to Rule 47 of the West Virginia Rules of Practice and Procedure for Family Court, courts shall not routinely assign guardians ad litem for children in a domestic relations case but, rather, shall appoint a guardian ad litem only where the court is presented with substantial allegations of domestic abuse or other serious issues; and (2) in this case, the circuit court’s appointment of the guardian ad litem in the domestic relations proceeding was in error. View "In re Interest of Z.D." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family 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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The Supreme Court issued a writ of prohibition requested by the Fairmont State University Board of Governors (Fairmont State) prohibiting the circuit court from hearing a lawsuit against it and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC), holding that venue was not proper in the Circuit Court of Marion County. Some faculty members at Fairmont State sued the Board of Governors and the HEPC in Marion County Circuit Court, alleging, among other things, that Fairmont State violated the West Virginia Open Meetings Act and that it did not fully comply with Plaintiffs’ Freedom of Information Act request. Fairmont State and the HEPC filed motions to dismiss the lawsuit based on improper venue, asserting that lawsuits against state agencies must be filed in Kanawha County. The circuit court denied the motions to dismiss. In response, Fairmont State filed this petition for a writ of prohibition. The Supreme court granted the writ, holding that the lawsuit against Fairmont State and the HEPC must be filed in the Circuit Court of Kanawha County. View "State ex rel. Fairmont State University Board of Governors v. Honorable Patrick N. Wilson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court upholding the decision of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) affirming the order of the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) revoking Petitioner’s driver’s license, despite a nearly two-year delay between Petitioner’s arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) and the license revocation. On appeal, Petitioner argued that the procedural delays were so unreasonably excessive that they violated his constitutional rights to due process. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the circuit court correctly found that Petitioner demonstrated no prejudice by either the delay of the DMV in issuing the revocation order or the delay in the OAH’s issuing its final order. View "Straub v. Reed" on Justia Law