Articles Posted in West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals

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EB Dorev Holdings, Inc. purchased tax liens on certain properties from Kanawha County. The West Virginia Department of Administration, Real Estate Division (WVDOA) later filed a complaint against EB Dorev and Kanawha county seeking to prevent the issuances of the tax deeds to EB Dorev. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the WVDOA and voided the sale of the tax liens. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court erred in ruling that the properties were entered exempt from 2009 real estate taxes upon the WVDOA’s purchase of the properties from private entities in August and September of 2008; but (2) the circuit court’s alternative finding that the tax liens at issue were extinguished through the doctrine of merger was not in error. View "EB Dorev Holdings v. W. Va. Dep't of Admin., Real Estate Div." on Justia Law

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Respondent began employment with the Raleigh County Emergency Services Authority in 2002. In 2010, the West Virginia Consolidated Public Retirement Board notified Respondent that he was ineligible to participate in the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) because he had not worked the statutorily-required 1,040 hours per year necessary for participation in PERS. The Retirement Board upheld the denial. The circuit court reversed, concluding that the Board was equitably estopped from denying to Respondent participation in PERS. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Board was not prevented from denying to Respondent the right to participate in PERS where (1) Respondent’s employer erroneously informed him that he was eligible to participate in PERS; and (2) Respondent did not rely on the Board’s representations about his PERS eligibility in accepting the position with the Authority. View "W. Va. Consol. Pub. Ret. Bd. v. Jones" on Justia Law

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The West Virginia Real Estate Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board filed disciplinary complaints against Linda York, a licensed real estate appraiser, alleging that York engaged in improper, wrongful or deficient conduct in her work as an appraiser. York filed a petition for writ of prohibition seeking to stop the Board's disciplinary proceedings against her, arguing that the Board lacked the authority to reopen previously dismissed complaints against her and that the Board grossly abused and exceeded its legitimate powers in regard to the remaining complaints. The Supreme Court issued the writ, holding that the Board (1) was without authority to reopen or reinstate the complaints that were duly dismissed; and (2) exceeded its jurisdiction by failing to conduct an administrative hearing on the complaints, and the Board’s failure to do so was in clear violation of State statutory and rule provisions. View "State ex rel. York v. Real Estate Appraiser Licensing & Certification Bd." on Justia Law

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An officer stopped Petitioner’s vehicle for a traffic infraction and determined that Petitioner was under the influence of marijuana. The Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles subsequently revoked Petitioner’s license to operate a motor vehicle due to driving under the influence of controlled substances. The Office of Administrative Hearings upheld the driver’s license revocation. The circuit court reversed. The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s order and remanded for reinstatement of the Commissioner’s order revoking Petitioner’s license, holding (1) there was sufficient evidence for the hearing examiner to make findings of fact that supported the Commissioner’s order of revocation; and (2) the Commissioner had jurisdiction to enter an order suspending Petitioner’s driving privileges. View "Dale v. Oakland" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs requested from the Acting Tax Commissioner a copy of the Computer-Assisted Mass Appraisal (CAMA) files for all real property in the state. The Tax Commissioner denied the request for the CAMA files, claiming that it was not custodian of the files. Plaintiffs filed an action seeking declaratory judgment and injunctive relief. The circuit court granted summary judgment to the Commissioner and the Kanawha County Assessor (Respondents), concluding that the CAMA files were exempt from production under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Commissioner was the custodian of the subject files; and (2) the circuit court erred in determining that the CAMA files were categorically exempt from disclosure under FOIA’s exemption for information of a personal nature. Remanded for submission of a Vaughn index and further findings. View "Hurlbert v. Matkovich" on Justia Law

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Respondent was arrested for driving under the influence after his vehicle was stopped by a police officer responding to a telephone call and information obtained from an individual claiming she had observed the vehicle driving erratically. The Division of Motor Vehicles issued an order administratively revoking Respondent’s license. The Office of Administrative Hearings reversed Respondent’s license revocation, finding that there was insufficient evidence to prove that the officers had an articulable reasonable suspicion to initiate the traffic stop, and therefore the initial traffic stop was invalid and the resulting license revocation was improper. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that both the initial stop and the arrest were valid. Remanded for an order reinstating Respondent’s administrative license revocation. View "Dale v. Ciccone" on Justia Law

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The Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) filed a petition to institute abuse and neglect proceedings against Mother regarding her child K.L. The DHHR’s petition against Mother was based solely on the prior involuntary termination as to another child C.W. The circuit court terminated Mother’s parental rights after finding that Mother failed to meet her burden of showing a change in her circumstances since the termination of her parental rights to C.W. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court committed reversible error in shifting the burden to Mother in this abuse and neglect case. Remanded. View "In re K.L." on Justia Law

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Paul Lightner filed a consumer complaint on behalf of himself and other policyholders before the Insurance Commissioner against CitiFinancial and Triton Insurance Company challenging the rates for certain insurance products. Following the Commissioner’s investigation and consideration of Lightner’s complaint, the Commissioner denied Lightner’s request for a hearing and found the challenged rates were reasonable. Lightner filed a petition appealing the Commissioner’s order denying his request for a hearing. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) did not err in upholding the Commissioner’s order denying a hearing because this case did not present any factual disputes warranting a hearing in this case; and (2) properly concluded that the Commissioner’s handling of the rate issues raised in Lightner’s complaint met statutory, regulatory, and constitutional standards. View "Lightner v. Riley" on Justia Law

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In 2012, Monongahela Power Company (“Mon Power”) filed a petition with the Public Service Commission of West Virginia ("Commission") to approve a generation resource transaction between it and Allegheny Energy Supply, LLC (“AE Supply”). The transaction consisted of Mon Power’s acquisition of AE Supply’s interest in the Harrison Power Station (“the plant”) and Mon Power’s recovery of a portion of its investment in that acquisition. The Commission approved a $257 million acquisition adjustment in the purchase price of the plant and allowed Mon Power, under certain conditions, to pass the acquisition adjustment to its customers in the rates that customers pay for electricity. The Supreme Court affirmed the Commission’s order, holding that the Commission’s findings were not contrary to or unsupported by the evidence and were not arbitrary, and the Commission’s application of the law was consistent with Commission precedent. View "W. Va. Citizen Action Group v. Pub. Serv. Comm'n of W. Va." on Justia Law

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Respondents were five employees of the State covered by the Public Employees Retirement System who actively served in the United States military during several recognized periods of armed conflict and were honorably discharged from the military. Respondents sought military service credit available through W. Va. Code 5-10-15 based on their military service. The West Virginia Consolidated Public Retirement Board denied Respondents’ requests for military service credit for service occurring periods of armed conflict other than limited exceptions. On appeal, the circuit court ruled in favor of Respondents and granted each of their military service credit requests in full. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in holding that Respondents were entitled to the military service credit they sought. View "W. Va. Consolidated Pub. Ret. Bd. v. Wood" on Justia Law