Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia

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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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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court granting mandamus relief to Lieutenant Gregory Scolapio and finding that Scolapio was entitled to a hearing before the Harrison County Civil Service Commission for Deputy Sheriffs regarding the decision of Robert Matheny, Sheriff of Harrison County, to terminate his employment. The court held (1) the circuit court did not err in determining that Scolapio was entitled to receive both a pre-disciplinary hearing before the hearing board and a de novo evidentiary hearing before the Commission; and (2) the circuit court did not err in permitting the Sheriff to intervene in the proceedings. View "Matheny v. Scolapio" on Justia Law

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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 affirmed the decision of the circuit court upholding the finding of just cause for Petitioner’s discharge made by the Mason County Civil Service Commission for Deputy Sheriffs. Petitioner was discharged from employment with the Mason County Sheriff’s Department based on two separate incidents. The Commission concluded that just cause existed for Petitioner’s discharge. The Circuit court affirmed the Commission’s decision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Petitioner was not denied procedural due process; (2) the Commission’s practices and procedures were not flawed; and (3) The Commission’s finding of just cause not not clearly wrong or a misapplication of the law, was not arbitrary or capricious, and was not contrary to the evidence. View "Fruth v. Powers" on Justia Law

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The circuit court erred in granting a preliminary injunction that stopped the implementation of West Virginia’s new “right to work” law - Senate Bill 1, enacted in the 2016 Regular Session of the Legislature. Plaintiffs, several unions, argued that the right to work law was unconstitutional because it was unfair to unions and their members. Defendants, state officials, argued that the law is fair because it protects workers who do not want to join or pay dues to a union. The circuit court imposed a preliminary injunction, ruling that the provisions of Senate Bill 1 would not go into effect until the court ruled on the merits of Plaintiffs’ arguments. The Supreme Court reversed and dissolved the preliminary injunction, holding that the unions failed to establish a likelihood of success on the merits of their constitutional claims. View "Morrisey v. West Virginia AFL-CIO" on Justia Law

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Two recently enacted statutes relating to damages - W. Va. Code 55-7-29 and 55-7E-3 - are remedial and apply in a trial conducted after the effective date of the statutes when the underlying facts in the case occurred prior to that effective date. After he was discharged from employment, Plaintiff filed a complaint against his former employer under the West Virginia Human Rights Act claiming that he was unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of race, national origin and/or ancestry. Defendant removed the case to federal district court on the basis of diversity. The district court then certified questions to the Supreme Court regarding the two statutes at issue. The Supreme Court answered the two certified questions in the affirmative and dismissed the matter from the docket of the court. View "Martinez v. Asplundh Tree Expert Co." on Justia Law

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An inmate injured while working at a work release center is not entitled to workers' compensation benefits. William Crawford sought workers’ compensation benefits for a severe injury he sustained during his period of confinement at the Charleston Work Release Center. The claims administrator rejected Crawford’s application for benefits based upon its determination that he did not suffer an injury in the course of and resulting from his employment because Crawford was an inmate and not an employee as defined under W. Va. Code 23-4-1(a). The office of judges and Workers’ Compensation Board of Review affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Board did not err in ruling that Crawford was not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits pursuant to W. Va. Code 23-4-1e(b); and (2) there was no violation of Crawford’s equal protection rights. View "Crawford v. West Virginia Department of Corrections - Work Release" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court denying Petitioner’s petition for a writ of mandamus seeking reinstatement to his position as a member of the Meadow Bridge Sanitary Board. The circuit court concluded that Petitioner was not a municipal officer and thus declined to find a legal duty on the part of the Town of Meadow Bridge to comply with the procedural protections of W. Va. Code 6-6-7 in removing Petitioner from his position on the Sanitary Board. The Supreme Court agreed, holding (1) Petitioner was not a municipal officer for purposes of W. Va. Code 6-6-7; and (2) Petitioner’s removal by a majority vote of the Meadow Bridge Town Council was proper. View "Cales v. Town of Meadow Bridge" 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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Plaintiff bid on the position “mechanic trainee” at a mine owned by Eastern Associated Coal (Defendant). In July 2012, Plaintiff learned of Defendant’s decision not to hire him. He did not learn until January 2014, however, that the basis for the employment decision may have been his age. Plaintiff instituted a civil action in the circuit court, asserting that Defendant had committed age discrimination in violation of the West Virginia Human Rights Act (HRA). Defendant moved to dismiss the civil action for failure to institute the suit within two years of the alleged discriminatory act underlying Plaintiff’s complaint. The circuit court certified two questions to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered (1) for discriminatory hiring causes of action filed pursuant to the HRA, the statute of limitations begins to run from the date that the plaintiff learns of the adverse employment decision; and (2) for discriminatory hiring causes of action filed pursuant to the HRA, the discovery rule does not toll the statute of limitations until the plaintiff discovers the alleged discriminatory motive underlying the employment decision. View "Metz v. Eastern Associated Coal, LLC" on Justia Law