Justia Contracts Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
Donahue v. Mammoth Restoration & Cleaning
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
Bradford v. W. Va. Solid Waste Management Board
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
Miller v. Wesbanco Bank, Inc.
In these consolidated appeals arising from breach of contract litigation between Thomas and Jamie Miller and WesBanco Bank, Inc., the Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's denial of prejudgment interest to the Millers and reversed the jury's damages award, holding that the Millers' evidence failed to support this verdict.On appeal, the Millers, who prevailed below, challenged the denial of their request for prejudgment interest, which was based upon their failure to request prejudgment interest from the jury. In its separate appeal, WesBanco raised four assignments of error. The Supreme Court remanded in part for further proceedings, holding (1) there was no error in the circuit court's denial of prejudgment interest; (2) there was no error in the admission of parol evidence; (3) the duty of good faith and fair dealing was properly applied to modify WesBanco's contractual obligations; (4) the circuit court did not err in denying judgment as a matter of law to WesBanco; and (5) the jury's damages award of $404,500 was against the clear weight of the evidence. View "Miller v. Wesbanco Bank, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Banking, Contracts, Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
W. Va. Department of Health & Human Resources v. Denise
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court refusing to compel arbitration in this case alleging violations of the West Virginia Human Rights Act, W. Va. Code 5-11-1 to -20, holding that the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) could not enforce the arbitration agreement.Plaintiff, a nurse who formerly worked for Sunbelt Staffing, LLC, signed an employment agreement containing an arbitration provision. Plaintiff was assigned to work at a hospital under DHHR's direction but later was informed she was not eligible to return to work for DHHR. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint against DHHR and others, alleging violations of the Act. DHHR moved to dismiss the amended complaint and to compel arbitration. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) DHHR had no right to invoke arbitration contained in the employment agreement; and (2) the theory of estoppel did not require arbitration. View "W. Va. Department of Health & Human Resources v. Denise" on Justia Law
Davari v. West Virginia University Board of Governors
The Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part the order of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of the West Virginia University Board of Governors (WVU BOG) on Plaintiff's claims alleging that the West Virginia University Institute of Technology (WVUIT) breached its agreement to pay him a supplementary salary for serving as director of a research center, holding that summary judgment was improper on Plaintiff's claim brought under the West Virginia Wage Payment Collection Act (WPCA), W. Va. Code 21-5-1 through 18.Plaintiff, a professor at WVUIT, brought this action against WVU BOG, which manages the educational operations of WVUIT, bringing a common law claim for breach of contract, alternative equitable claims of quantum merit and unjust enrichment, and a statutory cause of action under WPCA. WVU BOG, a state agency, moved for summary judgment, invoking the doctrine of sovereign immunity. The circuit court granted summary judgment on all of Plaintiff's claims. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) sovereign immunity did not bar Plaintiff's claims under the WPCA, and genuine issues of disputed fact existed as to whether WVU BOG violated the WPCA; and (2) summary judgment was properly granted on the remaining claims. View "Davari v. West Virginia University Board of Governors" on Justia Law
Triple 7 Commodities, Inc. v. High Country Mining, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court appointing a special commissioner to execute a reformation deed consummating the parties' confidential settlement agreement and mutual release (the agreement) and dismissing the action, holding that the circuit court did not err.In dismissing this action, the circuit court found (1) Defendants' failure timely to release the notice of lis pendens in connection with the action, as required under the agreement, did not constitute a material "first breach" of the agreement; (2) Defendants did not waive their right to enforcement of the agreement's terms; and (3) the agreement and its extensions were neither procedurally nor substantively unconscionable. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in (1) enforcing the agreement and its extensions by appointing the special commissioner to execute a reformation deed under the agreement's terms; and (2) dismissing the action in its entirety. View "Triple 7 Commodities, Inc. v. High Country Mining, Inc." on Justia Law
Horizon Ventures of West Virginia, Inc. v. Bituminous Power Partners, L.P.
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of American Bituminous Power Partners (AMBIT) and dismissing the breach of contract action brought by Horizon Ventures of West Virginia, holding that the circuit court erred in finding that the agreement between the parties was unconscionable.Horizon and AMBIT entered into a contract and agreement whereby Horizon agreed to provide consulting services to AMBIT in exchange for $50,000 annually. When, years later, AMBIT refused to pay Horizon, Horizon brought this breach of contract action. The circuit court granted summary judgment for AMBIT, finding that the agreement was substantively unconscionable and violative of public policy. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred in finding the consulting agreement unconscionable without finding both procedural and substantive unconscionability. View "Horizon Ventures of West Virginia, Inc. v. Bituminous Power Partners, L.P." on Justia Law
State ex rel. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Kansas, Inc. v. Honorable Shawn D. Nines
In this original jurisdiction proceeding, the Supreme Court granted a writ of prohibition sought by Petitioners, out-of-state Blue Cross Blue Shield Plans, to prevent the enforcement of the circuit court's order concluding that it had jurisdiction over Petitioners in this action, holding that jurisdiction over Petitioners was clearly not appropriate in this case.Respondent alleged that the circuit court had jurisdiction over Petitioners for several reasons. Petitioners filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, asserting that they had no relevant jurisdictional contacts with West Virginia. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that Petitioners purposefully availed themselves of the privilege of conducting business in West Virginia. Petitioners then filed the instant writ, arguing that any attempt to exercise specific jurisdiction over them violated due process because there was no allegation or evidence showing that they developed or maintained a substantial relationship with West Virginia or purposefully engaged in forum-related conduct that gave rise to Respondent's claims. The Supreme Court granted the writ, holding that Petitioners were entitled to the writ of prohibition. View "State ex rel. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Kansas, Inc. v. Honorable Shawn D. Nines" on Justia Law
Home Inspections of VA & WV, LLC v. Hardin
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying Petitioner's motion to dismiss Respondent's civil lawsuit or, in the alternative, to compel arbitration, holding that the arbitration provision was clear and unambiguous and was therefore an enforceable agreement to arbitrate.Respondent purchased real estate improved with several structures. After Petitioner inspected the structures Respondent signed the contract. After Respondent allegedly discovered issues with his property he filed a complaint against Petitioner alleging breach of contract, negligence and fraud. Petitioner filed a motion to dismiss, or alternatively, a motion to stay further proceedings and compel arbitration on the grounds that the parties' contract contained an enforceable arbitration provision. The circuit court concluded that the arbitration provision was ambiguous. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings, holding that the arbitration provision was clear and unambiguous. View "Home Inspections of VA & WV, LLC v. Hardin" on Justia Law
Gulfport Energy Corp. v. Harbert Private Equity Partners, LP
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court awarding Central Environmental Services, LLC (CES) damages, holding that a court may not award damages based on both unjust enrichment and breach of contract where such theories of recovery arise from the same set of facts.Gulfport Energy corporation entered into a contract with CES whereby CES agreed to provide services at Gulfport's wells. Some of CES's invoices remained unpaid when the business relationship ended. CES sued Gulfport alleging that Gulfport breached the contract and was unjustly enriched by CES's performance. The circuit court awarded CES $144,038. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that where the circuit court awarded judgment based, at least in part, on unjust enrichment where the litigants were parties to an express contract, the circuit court's order must be reversed. View "Gulfport Energy Corp. v. Harbert Private Equity Partners, LP" on Justia Law