Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
by
Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part three orders issued by two separate judges presiding over two separate but related cases in the circuit court, holding that remand was required.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) did not err in denying Praetorian Insurance Company's motion to intervene in Plaintiff's wrongful death action against its insured, Air Cargo Carriers, LLC for lack of standing to assert Air Cargo's right to workers' compensation immunity; (2) erred in denying Praetorian's motion for summary judgment as to count one of its declaratory judgment complaint; and (3) correctly dismissed count two of Praetorian's declaratory judgment complaint on the grounds that Praetorian lacked standing. View "Praetorian Insurance Co. v. Chau" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying Defendants' motion to dismiss the claims brought against them on grounds of workers' compensation immunity and immunity under the Governmental Tort Claims and Insurance Reform Act, W. Va. Code 29-12A-1, et seq., holding that the circuit court erred.Plaintiff, whose husband died in a workplace accident, sued Defendants, two of her husband's supervisors, claiming that they were liable for his death based on theories of deliberate intent under W. Va. Code 23-4-2-(d)(2)(A) and the tort of intentional and reckless conduct. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the claims against them, but the circuit court denied the motion, finding that they could be held personally liable. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) workers' compensation immunity insulated Defendants from liability for claims other than for a claim under section 23-4-2(d)(2)(A); and (2) under no set of facts consistent with Plaintiff's allegations could she prove the elements of a claim for heightened deliberate intent. View "Edwards v. Star" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court held that the circuit court erred in its application of "the open and obvious doctrine" but correctly granted summary judgment for Defendants because there was no genuine issue for trial on the issue of negligence.Plaintiff brought this civil complaint for damages arising from injuries he sustained in a fall on Defendants' property. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Defendants on all claims, ruling that Plaintiff's claims were barred by application of W. Va. Code 55-7-28(a), otherwise known as the open and obvious doctrine, and that Plaintiff had failed to produce evidence of negligence on the part of Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court erred in its application of the open and obvious doctrine as a basis for granting summary judgment to Defendants; but (2) summary judgment was proper because none of the evidence produced by Plaintiff in response to Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment show that there was a genuine issue for trial on the issue of negligence. View "Butner v. Highlawn Memorial Park Co." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the portion of the circuit court's order dismissing Plaintiff's claim for negligence against the Logan County Board of Education under W. Va. Code 29-12A-4(c)(2), holding that Plaintiff's allegations were sufficient to permit the inference that the duty and proximate cause elements of a claim for negligence existed.Plaintiff brought this action against the Board alleging that he was severely bullied by his classmates while he was a student at Logan Middle School and that school officials knew of the bullying but maintained that nothing could be done about the problem. The circuit court dismissed Plaintiff's claims under W. Va. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), concluding, as relevant to this appeal, that Plaintiff had not adequately pleaded the duty and causation elements of his negligence claim. The Supreme Court reversed the portion of the circuit court's order dismissing Plaintiff's negligence claim, holding that Plaintiff's allegations were sufficient to permit the inference that the duty and proximate cause elements of a claim for negligence existed. View "Jones v. Logan County Bd. of Education" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decisions of the lower tribunals resolving Claimant's permanent total disability (PTD) claim in his favor after denying his petition to reopen his occupational pneumoconiosis permanent partial disability (OP PPD) claim for further evaluation, holding that the lower tribunals erred in part.At issue in the instant consolidated appeals were Claimant's attempt to reopen his OP PPD claim for further evaluation and his claim for permanent total disability (PTD) due to his various impairments. While Claimant's PTD claim was still being litigated, he unsuccessfully filed two petition to reopen his OP PPD claim. The lower tribunals denied Claimant's reopening petitions but awarded him PTD. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) W. Va. Code 23-4-16(e) does not preclude reopening of a permanent disability claim because another permanent disability claim is pending; and (2) the lower tribunals were not clearly wrong in determining that Claimant was permanently and totally disabled. View "Delbert v. Murray American Energy, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying a motion for summary judgment filed by Adam Goodman and Paul Underwood (collectively, Petitioners) in this personal injury case arising from an accident in which Blake Auton was injured, holding that the allegations against Petitioners were those of pure negligence, which were barred by workers' compensation immunity.In its order denying summary judgment, the circuit court concluded that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Goodman was action within the scope of his employment while he was driving a garbage truck that backed over Auton and that additional discovery was required relating to Underwood's actions. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded with direction for the circuit court to grant summary judgment to Petitioners, holding (1) Petitioners were both clearly acting in furtherance of their employer's business when the accident occurred; and (2) therefore, workers' compensation immunity barred the cause of action and entitled Petitioners to summary judgment. View "Goodman v. Auton" on Justia Law

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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