Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
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The Supreme Court denied Petitioner's requested writ of certiorari to vacate an opinion issued by the West Virginia Legislative Claims Commission, holding that the opinion of the Claims Commission was not reviewable by the Supreme Court on a writ of certiorari at this procedural posture. Following the death of her son, Petitioner submitted a notice of claim with the Claims Commission against the West Virginia Department of Transportation, Division of Highways. The opinion of the Claims Commission stated that the Commission "[was] of the opinion to deny this claim." Petitioner then brought this action seeking a writ of certiorari from the Claims Commission's opinion. The Supreme Court denied the writ, holding that that review by writ of certiorari to this Court does not lie as to a non-binding recommendation of the Claims Commission made pursuant to W. Va. Code 14-2-12 that does not involve an existing or special appropriation and as to which the West Virginia Legislature has not taken final action. View "State ex rel. LaDayne v. West Virginia Legislative Claims Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court reversing the decision of the state agency that oversees law-enforcement training refusing a state university's application seeking authorization to establish and operate a new law enforcement training academy for senior university students majoring in criminal justice studies, holding that the circuit court did not err. In denying the university's application to create a new law enforcement training academy the state agency concluded that the university's proposed academy was not necessary. The circuit court reversed the state agency's decision and ordered that the agency approve the university's application, finding that the agency's decision was arbitrary, capricious, and unsupported by law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the agency's decision to deny the university's application to establish and operate an entry-level law enforcement training academy was arbitrary, capricious, and not supported by any statutory authority. View "Division of Justice & Community Service v. Fairmont State University" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the Public Service Commission of West Virginia (PSC) finding that Trulargo, LLC had been unlawfully operating as a common carrier by motor vehicle and requiring it to cease such activities until it obtains a permit therefore, holding that the PSC did not err by determining Trulargo to be a common carrier and that Trulargo was required to obtain the PSC's approval before engaging in, or continuing, such activities. On appeal, Trulargo argued that the PSC erred by ruling that it was operating as a common carrier and by improperly regulating Trulargo's roll-off container rental business and the costs it charged for such service. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Trulargo's operations constituted those of a common carrier by motor vehicle such that it was required to obtain a certificate of convenience and necessity to continue its activities; and (2) Trulargo's roll-off container rental and retrieval activities were squarely within the definition of a common carrier by motor vehicle, and therefore, the PSC had the authority to regulate Trulargo's business. View "Trulargo, LLC v. Public Service Commission of West Virginia" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court affirming a decision by the West Virginia Board of Medicine that imposed professional discipline upon Dr. Omar Hasan, including a one-year suspension of his medical license with the requirement that he petition for reinstatement, holding that there was no error in the circuit court's order affirming the final order of the Board. On appeal, Hasan argued that the Board erred by failing to adopt recommended findings of fact by its hearing examiner, by misstating various facts in its final order, and by improperly considering the content of certain text messages. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Board has the authority to amend findings of fact recommended by its hearing examiner so long as it provides a reasoned, articulate decision that explains the rationale for its changes, and the Board provided such a rationale in this case; (2) the Board did not err in considering the challenged text messages; and (3) the Board did not commit reversible error by misstating certain evidence. View "Hasan v. West Virginia Board of Medicine" on Justia Law

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In these consolidated appeals from the business court's orders reversing various Boards of Assessment Appeals and rejecting the West Virginia State Tax Department's valuation of Respondents' gas wells for ad valorem tax purposes the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the business court's judgment, holding that the business court erred in two respects. Specifically, the Court held that the business court (1) did not err in concluding that the Tax Department violated the applicable regulations by improperly imposing a cap on Respondents' operating expense deductions; (2) erred in rejecting the Tax Department's interpretation of the applicable regulations concerning the inclusion of post-production expenses in the calculation of the annual industry average operating expenses; and (3) erred in crafting relief permitting an unlimited percentage deduction for operating expenses in lieu of a monetary average. View "Steager v. Consol Energy, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court denying Petitioners' appeal and petition for writ of mandamus and affirming the order issued by the Martinsburg Police Civil Service Commission, holding that the circuit court did not err in ruling that the Commission's awarding points to a candidate on competitive examination for promotion based on education credentials did not violate the requirements of the Police Civil Service Act (Act), W. Va. Code 8-14-6 to -24. Petitioners, both of the Martinsburg Police Department, sat for competitive examinations for promotions. Without the consideration of points for education, both petitioners would have finished with sufficient scores for promotion. The Commissioner heard Petitioners' arguments on the legality of awarding points for education and found no basis to deviate from its established rule. The circuit court affirmed the final order issued by the Commission. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not commit reversible error in concluding that the Commission's consideration of higher education as a component of "experience" under the Act was consistent with the Act's purpose of ensuring meritorious promotions. View "Burner v. Martinsburg Police Civil Service Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court affirming the determination of the Board of Equalization and Review that Petitioners Murray Energy Corporation and Consolidation Coal Company's coal interests were properly valued and assessed by Defendants, holding that the circuit court properly concluded that the method of valuing coal properties violated neither the statutory requirement of assessment at "true and actual value" nor the constitutional equality requirements of the West Virginia Constitution and the equal protection provisions of the United States and West Virginia Constitutions. Specifically, the Court held (1) the methodology of valuing Petitioners' coal properties for ad valorem tax valuation purposes, as set forth in West Virginia Code of State Rules 110-1I-1 et seq., does not violate the requirement set forth in W. Va. Code 11-6K-1(a) that natural resources property be assessed based upon its "true and actual value"; and (2) the valuation methodology contained in the Code of State Rules does not violate the equality provision of W. Va. Const. art. X, 1 or the equal protection provisions of the United States and West Virginia Constitutions. View "Murray Energy Corp. v. Steager" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed two orders of the Public Service Commission (PSC) interpreting and applying regulations it adopted to give effect to the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), 16 U.S.C. 2601 et seq., holding that there was no error in the PSC's decision. In the orders at issue, the PSC interpreted its PURPA-based regulations as applying to ad agreement between a small power plant and a traditional electric utility and applied the regulations to find that the agreement, with modification, was "just and reasonable" to the electric utility's consumers. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the PSC's decision was not contrary to the evidence, without evidence to support it, or arbitrary and that the PSC's approach was within the bounds of PURPA's requirement. View "Sierra Club v. Public Service Commission of West Virginia" on Justia Law

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In this matter arising from a condemnation proceeding initiated by the West Virginia Department of Transportation, Division of Highways, the Supreme Court accepted questions certified by the circuit court and answered, among other things, that when the DOT initiates a condemnation proceeding that involves a partial taking of land in connection with a highway construction project and when, as a result of the project, a residue tract not needed by the State for public road purposes has been rendered landlocked, a court cannot require the Division of Highways to acquire the landlocked residue by condemnation. The federally-funded highway construction project in this case resulted in residue property being rendered landlocked. The Supreme Court answered questions certified to it by the circuit court and answered, under the circumstances of this case, that (1) the question of whether the residue has become an "uneconomic remnant" is not a question of fact to be determined by a jury; (2) the Division of Highways, over the objection of the landowner, may mitigate the damage to the residue by restoring reasonable public road access thereto; and (3) the trial court cannot require the Division to acquire the landlocked residue by condemnation. View "West Virginia Department of Transportation, Division of Highways v. Echols" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed a consolidated order of the Circuit Courts of Randolph, Barbour and Upshur Counties pursuant to which the Tax Commissioner’s determination was upheld that Penn Virginia Operating Company’s (Penn) forest properties were not eligible for lower valuation for tax year 2016, holding that Penn was deprived of its right to an administrative appeal of the denial of its application. Penn sought to have its timberland taxed at a lower appraised value subject to a cooperative contract with the State Division of Forestry (Forestry) pursuant to the Division’s Managed Timberland Program. The consolidated order in this case denied relief from the Commissioner’s determination that Penn’s forest properties were not eligible for lower valuation because Penn filed its application with Forestry for certification of its properties as managed timberland sixteen days after the deadline. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded this case with directions to allow Penn to appeal the denial of its application to Forestry’s Director, holding that Penn received incorrect information from Forestry and could have appealed the denial but was advised otherwise. View "Penn Virginia Operating Co., LLC v. Honorable Phyllis K. Yokum" on Justia Law