Justia Contracts Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
by
The Supreme Court answered certified questions seeking to clarify whether, in payment of royalties under an oil and gas lease, the lessor may be required to bear a portion of the post-production costs incurred in rendering the oil and gas marketable.Specifically, the district court asked whether Estate of Tawyne v. Columbia Natural Resources, LLC, 633 S.E.2d 22 (W. Va. 2006) is still good law in West Virginia and then asked the Supreme Court to expound upon its holding in Tawney. The Supreme Court answered (1) Tawney is still good law; and (2) this Court defines to answer the reformulated question of what level of specificity Tawney requires of an oil and gas lease to permit the deduction of post-production costs from a lessor's royalty payments. View "SWN Production Co., LLC v. Kellam" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court granted Petitioner's request for a writ of prohibition as moulded in this case involving a business dispute rooted in a contract between Petitioner, a manufacturer of hemp-derived vaping cartridges, and Respondent, its distributor, holding that Petitioner was entitled to the writ.Respondent filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Logan County even though the parties' contract required that any lawsuit arising out of the breach of their agreement be filed in the Circuit Court of Hamilton County, Indiana. The circuit court denied Petitioner's motion to dismiss the complaint based on the forum-select clause. The Supreme Court remanded the case after granting a writ of prohibition, holding that the circuit court incorrectly evaluated the enforceability of the forum-selection clause. View "State ex rel., 3C LLC v. Honorable Eric H. O'Briant" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court granting Respondents' motion for partial summary judgment in this insurance dispute, holding that the circuit court's order failed to set forth factual findings sufficient to permit meaningful appellate review.State Farm Fire and Casualty Company appealed the circuit court's partial summary judgment, arguing that the circuit court erred in finding coverage for a bat infestation under a rental dwelling policy it issued to Respondents. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded this action to the circuit court for further development, holding that the circuit court's order was not adequately set forth, leaving the Court unable to determine whether Respondents' motion for partial summary judgment was correctly granted. View "State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. v. Nathaniel Realty, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying Resources Limited, LLC's motion to set aside the default judgment in this case, holding that the circuit court abused its discretion in denying Resources Limited's motion to set aside the default judgment.New Trinity Coal, Inc. filed a complaint against Resources Limited asserting claims of breach of contract and unjust enrichment. New Trinity later filed a motion for default judgment, which the circuit court granted. Resources Limited filed a motion to set aside the default judgment. The circuit court denied the motion, finding that there was no evidence of excusable neglect. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Resources Limited's motion to set aside the default judgment should have been granted. View "Resources Limited, LLC v. New Trinity Coal, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the business court's orders in this rent dispute, holding that the business court erred in granting summary judgment to either party.American Bituminous Power Partners, LP (AMBIT) and Horizon Ventures of West Virginia, Inc. created a contractual relationship with a lease agreement. The current rent dispute involved the relationship between the lease, a 1996 settlement agreement, and a 2017 order of the business court. Without resolving the relationship between those documents the business court granted summary judgment to AMBIT on Horizon's claims and summary judgment to Horizon on AMBIT's claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that summary judgment was improper because the various agreements were ambiguous and the parties' intent was not clear. View "Horizon Ventures of W. Va., Inc. v. American Bituminous Power Partners, L.P." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's judgment finding as a matter of law that Defendant Antero Resources Corporation breached the parties' contract and granting partial summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff Directional One Services Inc., USA, holding that the court did not err in its rulings.At issue was the ruling of the circuit court that because two separate documents involved the same parties, the same subject, and were clearly related, then the documents should be construed together as the terms of one contract between the parties. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court in its entirety, holding that there was no merit to Defendant's allegations of error on appeal. View "Antero Resources Corp. v. Directional One Services, Inc., USA" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the portion of the order of the circuit court applying prejudgment interest to the jury verdict in this lawsuit alleging breach of express and implied warranties and other claims but otherwise affirmed, holding that the circuit court erred in its assessment of prejudgment interest.Plaintiff sued Defendant, a car dealership, alleging breaches of consumer laws and contract principles. During discovery, DCW withheld requested documents even after the circuit court imposed monetary sanctions. When the requested documents appeared as an exhibit in DCW's motion for summary judgment the circuit court denied the motion and sanctioned DCW. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding that the circuit court (1) did not abuse its discretion by issuing the sanction, approving the jury's verdict, and ordering DCW to pay attorney fees and costs; but (2) erred by applying prejudgment interest to the entire verdict. View "Dan's Car World, LLC v. Delaney" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court denying Petitioner's motion to compel arbitration, holding that the circuit court did not err.Respondents Louise McGraw and Charlotte Rodgers, by and through their daughters, Nancy Reuschel and Loretta Holcomb, filed a complaint against Petitioner, Chancellor Senior Management, Ltd., arguing that Petitioner defrauded their mothers by making misrepresentations and misleading statements and concealing material facts, in violation of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act (WVCCPA). See W. Va. Code 46A-1-101 to -8-102. Petitioner filed a motion to compel arbitration based on an arbitration provision set forth in the residency agreement Reuschel and Holcomb signed on behalf of their motions. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that the agreement could not be enforced as written. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in determining that the arbitration agreement could not be enforced as written because it did not "comply with its own stated standards." View "Chancellor Senior Management, Ltd. v. McGraw" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court enforcing a settlement agreement between Petitioner and his insurer, Respondent Allstate Company, and denying Petitioner's request to amend his complaint or allow the filing of a new complaint, holding that there was no error.The settlement agreement at issue related to water damages occurring at Petitioner's real property. Petitioner failed to execute and return the agreement, after which Respondent filed a motion to enforce settlement. Petitioner then filed a motion to amend the complaint or, in the alternative, allow the filing of a new complaint. The circuit court granted Respondent's motion to enforce the settlement and denied Petitioner's motion to amend. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err as to any of its challenged rulings. View "Donahue v. Mammoth Restoration & Cleaning" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court held that a county solid waste authority has no power to enter into a fixed-term employment contract with a non-civil service employee.In 2008, The Nicholas County Solid Waste Authority (NCSWA) entered into an employment contract with employee Larry Bradford under which Bradford was to continue in his position for a fixed term. In 2014, the West Virginia Solid Waste Management Board (WVSWMB) exercised its statutory power of supersedure over the NCSWA. The next day, the WVSWMB terminated Bradford's employment. Bradford brought suit, asserting causes of action for violation of the West Virginia Wage Payment and Collection Act and for breach of contract. After five years of litigation, the parties jointly moved the circuit court to certify questions to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court accepted one certified question, which rendered the remaining three questions moot, answering that a county solid waste authority has no authority to enter into a fixed-term employment contract with a non-civil service employee and that any such contract is unenforceable and void as a matter of law. View "Bradford v. W. Va. Solid Waste Management Board" on Justia Law