Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Board of Review concluding that Employer could reclaim temporary total disability benefits it paid to a claimant for an extra 156 days beyond the date Employer was statutorily required to pay, holding that the overpayment decision violated W.Va. Code 23-4-1c(h). Employer paid benefits to a claimant for almost two-and-a-half years while the claimant was undergoing medical and physical rehabilitation. When Employer discovered it had paid the claimant benefits for 156 days beyond what it was required to pay, Employer declared those days an overpayment and sought to recover the benefits from the claimant. A claims examiner concluded that Employer could reclaim those benefits under this state’s workers’ compensation laws. The Board of Review upheld the decisions regarding overpayment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Employer wholly failed to follow the process set forth in section 23-4-1c(h). View "Reed v. Exel Logistics, Inc." on Justia Law

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Workers’ compensation dependents’ death benefits awarded under West Virginia law are payable as long as the benefits awarded under the laws of another state for the same injury remain suspended due to a related third-party settlement. Petitioner received awards of dependents’ benefits in both Rhode Island and West Virginia. The West Virginia award was subject to W. Va. Code 23-2-1c(d), which provides for a credit of workers’ compensation benefits “awarded or recovered” under laws of another state. No benefits were paid out in connection to the West Virginia award because the weekly benefits paid in relation to the Rhode Island claim were greater than, and credited against, the West Virginia benefits awarded. After Petitioner reached a confidential settlement with defendants in a civil action she filed in relation to the decedent’s death her Rhode Island dependents’ benefits were suspended. Petitioner then requested payment of West Virginia dependents’ benefits. Petitioner’s request was denied. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the dependents’ benefits awarded under Rhode Island law were suspended, Petitioner was entitled to receive payments of dependents’ benefits awarded to her under West Virginia law. View "Moran v. Rosciti Construction Co., LLC" on Justia Law

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The order of the Tax Commissioner of the State of West Virginia penalizing Ashland Specialty Company, Inc. (Ashland) $159,398 for unlawfully selling 12,230 packs of cigarettes in West Virginia that were not approved for sale - a penalty equal to 500 percent of the cigarettes’ retail value - was not an abuse of discretion. The Office of Tax Appeals (OTA) ordered the Commissioner’s penalty reduced by twenty-five percent, finding the Commissioner’s original penalty to be erroneous, unlawful, void, or otherwise invalid. The circuit court reversed the order of the OTA and reinstated the Commissioner’s original penalty. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not simply substitute its own judgment for that of the OTA when it reinstated the Commissioner’s original penalty; (2) the Commissioner’s penalty was not an abuse of the discretion afforded him by W. Va. Code 16-9D-8(a) and need not be cancelled or reduced due to circumstances that allegedly mitigated their unlawful cigarette sales; and (3) the Commissioner’s penalty did not violate the Excessive Fines Clause of the West Virginia Constitution or the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. View "Ashland Specialty Co., Inc. v. Steager, State Tax Commissioner of West Virginia" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court revising the order of the Commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) revoking Petitioner’s driver’s license after he was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, holding that the circuit court erred in finding that Petitioner suffered actual and substantial prejudice as a result of a post-hearing delay by the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). When Petitioner challenged the revocation by appeal, the OAH conducted a hearing but then took no action for two and a half years. The OAH eventually affirmed the revocation. The circuit court reversed the revocation. The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s order and remanded for reinstatement of the DMV’s order revoking Petitioner’s driver’s license, holding that the circuit court’s finding of prejudice was erroneous. View "Reed v. Boley" on Justia Law

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Under the plain language of W. Va. Code 23-4-8, the claims administrator did not have discretion to deny Claimant reimbursement for his meal expense he incurred while attending a required medical examination on the ground that his travel did not require overnight lodging. Claimant, who applied for workers’ compensation benefits, was ordered by his claims administrator to attend a medical examination 100 miles away from from his home. Claimant ate one meal while attending the medical examination. The claims administrator denied Claimant’s request for reimbursement for the meal expense he incurred on the ground that his travel did not require overnight lodging. The Workers’ Compensation Board of Review affirmed the denial of Claimant’s request for meal reimbursement. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the claims administrator violated the clear mandate in section 23-4-8 that Claimant be reimbursed for his reasonable travel expenses. View "Silveti v. Ohio Valley Nursing Home, Inc." on Justia Law

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Under the plain language of W. Va. Code 23-4-8, the claims administrator did not have discretion to deny Claimant reimbursement for his meal expense he incurred while attending a required medical examination on the ground that his travel did not require overnight lodging. Claimant, who applied for workers’ compensation benefits, was ordered by his claims administrator to attend a medical examination 100 miles away from from his home. Claimant ate one meal while attending the medical examination. The claims administrator denied Claimant’s request for reimbursement for the meal expense he incurred on the ground that his travel did not require overnight lodging. The Workers’ Compensation Board of Review affirmed the denial of Claimant’s request for meal reimbursement. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the claims administrator violated the clear mandate in section 23-4-8 that Claimant be reimbursed for his reasonable travel expenses. View "Silveti v. Ohio Valley Nursing Home, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court ordering that Joseph Pompeo’s driver’s license be restored after its revocation. Pompeo’s driver’s license was revoked when, during a traffic stop, police officers observed that Pompeo appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and Pompeo refused to submit to a secondary chemical test. The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) upheld the revocation. The circuit court ordered that Pompeo’s driving privileges be restored on several grounds. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for the reinstatement of the administrative order revoking Pompeo’s driver’s license, holding (1) the circuit court erred by disregarding the evidence upon which the OAH relied and abused its discretion in substituting its judgment for that of the fact-finder below; and (2) the OAH’s findings were not clearly wrong. View "Reed v. Pompeo" on Justia Law

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In these consolidated appeals requiring the Supreme Court to interpret various provisions of the West Virginia Surface Coal Mining and Reclamation Rule (WVSCMRR), W.Va. CSR 38-2-1, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the order of the circuit court. The Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) did not err in finding that the WVSCMRR does not require a coal company, in its application for modification of its mining permit, to demonstrate compliance with the Utility Protection Standard found at W.Va. 38-2-14.17; (2) did not err in ruling that the permit application sufficiently described how the coal operator would comply with the Utility Protection Standard; but (3) erred in finding that the WVSCMRR applied regardless of a coal operator’s common law property rights. View "Texas Eastern Transmission v. W. Va. Department of Environmental Protection" 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 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