Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
by
The Supreme Court denied Governor James Conley Justice's request for a writ of prohibition seeking relief from the circuit court's writ of mandamus compelling him to reside in Charleston under the political question doctrine and corresponding separation of powers principles, holding that Governor Justice failed to meet the standard for issuance of a writ of prohibition.W. Va. Const. art. VII, 1 provides that the Governor of West Virginia must "reside at the seat of government" during his term of office. Respondent filed a petition for writ of mandamus directing Governor Justice to reside in Charleston in accordance with this constitutional provision. The circuit court rules that mandamus was available to compel Governor Justice to comply with the provision. Governor Justice then brought this action seeking a writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court denied the requested writ to prohibit enforcement of the circuit court's order, holding that the circuit court had jurisdiction to issue a writ of mandamus, did not exceed its legitimate powers, and did not clearly err in denying the Governor's motion to dismiss the petition for writ of mandamus. View "State ex rel. Justice v. Honorable Charles King" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court reversing the decision of the Public Employees Grievance Board (PEGB) determining that Petitioners, employees of the Lincoln County Board of Education, did not qualify as Executive Secretaries under W. Va. 18A-4-8(i)(45), holding that the circuit court did not err.Petitioners filed grievances with the PEGB seeking reclassification from Secretary III to Executive Secretary. The PEGB found that Petitioners did not meet section 18A-4-8(i)(45)'s definition of Executive Secretary but that they were entitled to reclassification because they met the Board's definition of Executive Secretary. The circuit court affirmed the PEGB's determination that Petitioners did not qualify as Executive Secretaries under the Code but reversed the decision granting Petitioners' requested classification, concluding that the Board's definition of Executive Secretary contravened state law because it conflicted with section 18A-4-8(i)(45). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Board's definition of the Executive Secretary title was unquestionably contrary to the law. View "Owens v. Lincoln County Board of Education" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court affirming the decision of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) reversing the administrative order revoking Gary Bragg's driving privileges for driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances and/or drugs (DUI), holding that the OAH erred in reversing the order of revocation.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the OAH erred in reversing the order of revocation based solely upon the fact that a blood sample withdrawn from Bragg was not tested or made available to Bragg for independent testing; and (2) because the OAH failed otherwise to evaluate the record evidence, the case must be remanded for a determination of whether sufficient evidence supported the administrative revocation of Bragg's driver's license. View "Frazier v. Bragg" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court that ordered the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to grant the application for a motor vehicle salesperson license submitted by Timothy McCabe, holding that W. Va. Code 17A-6E-4(c)(5) is rationally related to the State's legitimate interest in preventing fraudulent activity in the motor vehicle industry and is not arbitrary or discriminatory.McCabe was denied a permanent motor vehicle salesperson license pursuant to section 17A-6E-4(c)(5), which prohibits the issuance of a motor vehicle salesperson license to an applicant previously convicted of a felony involving financial matters or the motor vehicle industry. The circuit court ordered that McCabe's application for a motor vehicle salesperson license be granted, concluding that the statute cannot lawfully be applied to applicants who were convicted of felonies prior to the enactment of the statute, that Defendant was denied due process, and that the statute is both constitutionally overbroad and overly narrow. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 17A-6E-4(c)(5) is a regulatory statute that does not violate the prohibition against ex post facto laws; (2) Defendant was afforded his procedural due process rights; and (3) the statute is neither overly broad nor overly narrow. View "Frazier v. McCabe" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court reversing the order of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) affirming the revocation of Respondent's driver's license for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), holding that the circuit court erred.The arresting officer in this case did not attend the OAH hearing. In affirming the revocation, the OAH relied on the officer's DUI information sheet. The circuit court reversed, holding that the Division of Motor Vehicle's (DMV) records, including the DUI information sheet, should not have been admitted into evidence and considered by the OAH. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the OAH was statutorily obligated to receive the DMV's file, including the arresting officer's DUI information sheet, into evidence, and the circuit court's ruling to the contrary was clearly erroneous; and (2) the circuit court erred in ruling that the DMV had the burden of securing the arresting officer's attendance at the OAH hearing. View "Frazier v. Fouch" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's dismissal of West Virginia Counties Group Self-Insurance Risk Pool, Inc.'s (WVCoRP) claims against Great Cacapon Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. (VFD), holding that the circuit court did not err.When a fire destroyed the building where VFD was housed, the owner of the building, the Morgan County Commission, was reimbursed for the loss by WVCoRP. Seeking to recover the funds it expended, WVCoRP sued the VFD and other parties for negligence. In the process, WVCoRP invoked a contractual right to subrogation. The circuit court determined that the claims against VFD were barred by W. Va. Code 29-12A-13(c), which prohibits claims against political subdivisions made under a right of subrogation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) WVCoRP's claims spring from its coverage contract with the Commission and fall within any plain meaning of subrogation; and (2) section 29-12A-13(c) is not an insurance law of the State from which WVCoRP is exempt. View "West Virginia Counties Group v. Great Cacapon Volunteer Fire Department, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court granted a writ of prohibition as moulded preventing the enforcement of the circuit court's order that stayed the Commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles' (DMV) administrative revocation of the driver's license of Dalton Watts pending appeal to the circuit court, holding that the circuit court had no jurisdiction to hear this matter.The DMV sought to prohibit the judge of the circuit court from enforcing his order staying the revocation of Watts' driver's license pending appeal, arguing that because there was no contested case in the administrative proceeding the circuit court did not have jurisdiction. The DMV further argued that Watts' requested for relief below should properly be considered a petition for writ of mandamus against the OAH, which was not a party to the appeal. The Supreme Court granted the writ as moulded, holding that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to hear either the appeal or a petition for writ of mandamus in this action, thus clearly exceeding its authority in acting upon Watts' filing. View "State ex rel. Frazier v. McGraw" on Justia Law

by
In these two consolidated cases, the Supreme Court granted as moulded a requested writ of prohibition in Case Number 19-0754 and granted the requested writ of prohibition in Case Number 19-0755, holding that the circuit court erred by not complying with the statutory procedure prescribed for granting a stay of an administrative revocation of a driver's license to operate a motor vehicle.The circuit court stayed the administrative revocation of Respondents' driver's licenses while their appeals from the revocation rulings were pending in the circuit court. The Commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles requested a writ of prohibition to prevent the circuit court from enforcing the orders, arguing that the circuit court failed to comply with the requisite statutory procedure for the issuance of a stay set forth in W. Va. Code 17C-5A-2(s). Recognizing the different procedural postures of the two matters, the Supreme Court granted as moulded the requested writ of prohibition in one case and granted the requested writ as to the other case, holding that the circuit court erred by disregarding the plain and mandatory statutory language of section 17C-5A-2(s) in staying an administrative revocation of a driver's license. View "State ex rel., Frazier v. Honorable Thompson" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court affirming the order of the Public Grievance Board denying as untimely the grievance brought by Melissa Wilfong challenging the alleged failure to the Board of Education of Randolph County to place her in a full-time administrative position, holding that Wilfong's grievance was untimely.Wilfong was employed as a half-time principal and half-time teacher at Valley Head Elementary School, which closed at the end of the 2016-2017 school year. In April 2017 the Board notified Wilfong that she had been approved for transfer to another position but informed her that she did not yet have an assignment for the following school year. In August 2017, Wilfong accepted a full-time teaching position. That same day, Wilfong filed her grievance complaining that the Board failed to place her in an administrative position. The Grievance Board denied the grievance as untimely. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Wilfong filed her grievance outside the fifteen-day window provided by W. Va. Code 6C-2-4(a)(1), the grievance was not timely filed. View "Wilfong v. Randolph County Board of Education" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court reversing a decision of the West Virginia Public Employees Grievance Board that had dismissed, as untimely filed, a grievance filed by Respondent, holding that there was no basis in the record for the circuit court to find that the Board improperly dismissed Respondent's grievance as untimely filed.Respondent filed a grievance alleging that he should have been appointed for a position in the Highway Engineer classification with the West Virginia Division of Highways (DOH). The Board granted DOH's motion to dismiss the grievance as untimely filed. The circuit court reversed, finding that the grievance was timely filed under the discovery rule. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the time period for filing an employment selection grievance under W. Va. Code 6C-2-4(a)(1) begins when the grievance is unequivocally notified of the selection decision by the employer, not when the grievance discovers facts about the person selected for the position. View "West Virginia Division of Highways v. Powell" on Justia Law