Justia Contracts Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
Ball v. United Financial Casualty Co.
The Supreme Court answered a certified question from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit concerning the amount of motor vehicle liability insurance coverage, if any, that Insurer must provide to a non-employee permissive user of an insured vehicle who caused personal injuries to an employee of a named insured under a standard commercial automobile insurance policy.The Fourth Circuit determined that an employee indemnification and employer's liability's exclusion in the policy at issue was void and unenforceable under the mandatory omnibus requirements of W. Va. Code 33-6-31(a). The Supreme Court answered (1) the void exclusion may not be invoked to limit the amount of coverage available to a permissive user of a vehicle insured by Insurer's policy; and (2) Insurer must afford the permissive user with liability coverage up to the full limits available under the insurance policy for any proven damages. View "Ball v. United Financial Casualty Co." on Justia Law
McDowell v. Allstate Vehicle & Property Insurance Co.
The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Allstate Vehicle and Property Insurance Company's decision to rescind an insurance policy purchased for a derelict house Homeowner intended to remodel, holding that questions of material fact existed precluding summary judgment.After a fire occurred, damaging the house and some of its contents, Allstate announced that it was rescinding the homeowners' insurance policy issued to Homeowner, asserting that Homeowner digitally signed an application in which he falsely answered a request as to whether he would occupy the house within thirty days. Plaintiffs, including Homeowner, sued Allstate for breach of contract and unfair trade practices. The circuit court granted Allstate's motion to rescind the policy, concluding that there was no factual dispute that Homeowner had made false statements on his insurance application. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that questions of material fact existed regarding whether Plaintiff's answer to Allstate's thirty-day-occupancy question was false and whether the question was material to Allstate's issuance of the policy. View "McDowell v. Allstate Vehicle & Property Insurance Co." on Justia Law
SWN Production Co., LLC v. Kellam
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
State ex rel., 3C LLC v. Honorable Eric H. O’Briant
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
State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. v. Nathaniel Realty, LLC
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
Resources Limited, LLC v. New Trinity Coal, Inc.
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
Horizon Ventures of W. Va., Inc. v. American Bituminous Power Partners, L.P.
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
Antero Resources Corp. v. Directional One Services, Inc., USA
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
Dan’s Car World, LLC v. Delaney
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
Chancellor Senior Management, Ltd. v. McGraw
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