Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the Mass Litigation Panel through which summary judgment was granted in favor of Defendants, Pfizer, Inc., Roerig, a division of Pfizer, Inc., and Greenstone, LLC (collectively, Pfizer) on Plaintiffs’ claims that Pfizer negligently failed adequately to warn them of the risk of birth defects through the ingestion of Zoloft, a prescription medication, during pregnancy. The Court held (1) this was a case where expert testimony was necessary, and therefore, the Panel did not erroneously based its decision on the absence of expert testimony to support Plaintiffs’ claims that Pfizer failed adequately to warn women of childbearing age of the risks of Zoloft; (2) Petitioners could not sustain their evidentiary burden with Pfizer’s witnesses; and (3) there was no unfairness in requiring Plaintiffs to meet their burden of proof with expert testimony under the circumstances of this case. View "J.C. v. Pfizer, Inc." on Justia Law

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There is no cause of action in West Virginia for failure to warn and negligent misrepresentation against a branded drug manufacturer when the drug ingested was produced by a generic manufacturer. Petitioners, Kimmy and Larry McNair, filed an action against Respondent, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, alleging that Kimmy developed acute respiratory distress after ingestion the generic drug levofloxacin that was manufactured by Dr. Reddy’s Laboraties Limited. Janssen originally trademarked and sold levofloxacin under the brand Levaquin and produced the warnings on the label that accompanied the distribution of the drug, which were subsequently used by generic manufacturers of levofloxacin. The McNairs alleged that Janssen had exclusive control of the content of the warning for both the brand-name and generic forms of the drug and was therefore liable for their alleged injuries. The federal district court granted summary judgment to Janssen, finding that because Janssen did not manufacture the product ingested by Kimmy, there was no basis on which to hold Janssen liable. On appeal, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals certified to the Supreme Court a question of law. In answering as set forth above, the Supreme Court declined to expand its products liability law. View "McNair v. Johnson & Johnson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court dismissing Plaintiff’s complaint against Defendants, the Town of Grantsville and its police chief, holding that the claims set forth in the complaint were barred by the applicable statute of limitations. After the Office of Administrative Hearsing reversed the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles’ revocation of Plaintiff’s driving privileges, Plaintiff brought this complaint alleging malicious prosecution, outrageous conduct, intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation against the police chief and alleging the negligent employment of the police chief against the town. The circuit court dismissed the complaint as barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The Supreme Court affirmed. View "Richards v. Walker" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court denying the motion for a new trial Defendants sought after an adverse jury verdict in favor of Plaintiff in this personal injury action. After sustaining injuries in a collision, Plaintiff filed this complaint. The jury found that Defendants were at fault when their police vehicle rear-ended Plaintiff’s vehicle while he was driving. On appeal, Defendants challenged the circuit court’s denial of their motion for new trial or remittitur. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in (1) instructing the jury regarding yielding right-of-way to an emergency vehicle and the standard of care for operating an emergency vehicle; (2) failing to provide Defendants with copies of the juror questionnaires prior to jury voir dire; (3) limiting cross-examination of a witness; and (4) awarding general and special damages. Lastly, Defendants failed to preserve for appellate review their claim that during closing argument Plaintiff’s counsel made a “golden rule” argument in violation of a pretrial ruling by the circuit court. View "Miller v. Allman" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying Defendant’s post-trial motions following an adverse jury verdict in this “deliberate intention” action. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiffs in this personal injury action, finding that Defendant acted with “deliberate intent.” Defendant filed a renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law and, alternatively, a motion for a new trial and a motion to alter or amend the judgment. The trial court denied the motions. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to satisfy all of the statutory requirements for a “deliberate intention” claim. View "FirstEnergy Generation, LLC v. Muto" on Justia Law

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In this wrongful death action, the Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ (DHHR) motion for summary judgment, in which DHHR argued that it was entitled to qualified immunity. The circuit court determined that DHHR was not entitled to qualified immunity because it was alleged that DHHR had violated a clearly established statutory or constitutional law. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the complained-of conduct involved discretionary functions and that Plaintiff failed to demonstrate a violation of a clearly established statutory or constitutional law, and therefore, the circuit court should have granted summary judgment for DHHR on the basis of qualified immunity. View "Crouch v. Gillespie" on Justia Law

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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