News & Publications

West Virginia Updates May 30, 2017

Case Bulletin – West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Upholds Clear and Unambiguous Exclusion of Coverage in Homeowner’s Policy

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals recently decided a case in which an insured, Robert Nelson, sought declaratory judgment from State Farm stating that he was entitled to coverage under his State Farm’s homeowner policy when his wife negligently shot him. The case went before the Circuit Court of Harrison County, and State Farm […]

West Virginia Updates May 30, 2017

Case Bulletin – The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia Answers Two Certified Questions Related to Coverage for a Fire in a Vacant Building in Favor of Insurer

On April 26, 2017, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia (the “Court”) issued its decision in Ashraf, M.D. v. State Auto Property and Casualty Insurance Company, 2017 WL 1549582 (W. Va. 2017), holding: (1) that a Vacancy provision in a fire insurance policy which provides that an insurer is allowed to reduce by […]

West Virginia Updates March 26, 2017

Case Bulletin – Supreme Court of West Virginia Issues Ruling on Assignment of Claims Against Insurer

On March 1, 2017, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia (the “Court”) issued its decision in Penn-American Insurance Co. v. Osborne, 2017 WL 878716 (W. Va. 2017), holding: (1) a consent judgment was not binding on an insurer that was not a party to the original suit; and (2) a pre-trial assignment of […]

West Virginia Updates February 26, 2017

Case Bulletin – Fourth Circuit Rules that Expert’s Testimony is Unreliable and Inadmissible

In Nease v. Ford Motor Company (4th Cir., February 1, 2017) 2017 WL 437665, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that Plaintiff’s expert’s testimony was unreliable and inadmissible.   Plaintiff, Howard Nease, commenced a product liability action against Ford Motor Company alleging that Mr. Nease suffered injuries in an accident caused […]

West Virginia Updates December 15, 2016

Case Bulletin – West Virginia Supreme Court Rules Upon Intentional or Criminal Act Exclusions and Severability Clauses

On November 17, 2016, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals (the “Court”), issued its opinion in American National Property and Casualty Co. v. Clendenen, et al., 2016 WL 6833123 (W. Va. 2016). This case involves very tragic facts where two minor females, Shelia Eddy and Rachel Shoaf, conspired and carried out the murder of […]

West Virginia Updates October 31, 2016

Case Summary – West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Affirms Workers’ Compensation Board of Review’s Ruling – Insurance Commissioner has Discretionary Authority to Not Allocate Damages to Multiple Employers Under the West Virginia Workers’ Compensation Statute

On September 19, 2016, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals (“the Court”), by a four to one (4-1) decision, affirmed an April 3, 2015 Order from the West Virginia Workers’ Compensation Board of Review, which affirmed an Administrative Law Judge’s ruling that Pioneer Pipe was the sole chargeable employer responsible for paying Stephen Swain’s […]

West Virginia Updates July 1, 2016

Case Bulletin – Sanctions Not Imposed on Defendant Who Stipulated to Liability After Denying Liability in Discovery Responses

In a Memorandum Decision announced on June 17, 2016 in McGhee et al. v. Smith et al., No. 15-0765, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia declined to impose sanctions on a defendant who denied liability in response to a request for admission but later stipulated to liability before trial.  The court held that, […]

West Virginia Updates March 30, 2016

Case Bulletin – Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia Rules to Protect Identity of Non-Party Insureds in Unfair Trade Practices Claim

In the case State ex rel. State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. v. Hon. Jeffrey D. Cramer, Judge; William Bassett and Sarah Bassett, William and Sarah Bassett sued their insurer, State Farm, after William Bassett was denied the available $100,000 in liability coverage in three applicable policies for his uninsured motorists coverage claim. State Farm eventually […]

West Virginia Updates February 2, 2016

Case Bulletin – West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Reiterates that Plaintiffs are not Entitled to Double Recovery

On Tuesday, January 26, 2016, the Supreme Court of West Virginia issued a new ruling that “[w]hen an insurer makes an advance payment to a tort-claimant upon condition that the advance payment will be credited against a future judgment or determination of damages, the damages recovered by the claimant on a subsequent judgment shall be […]

West Virginia Updates January 14, 2016

Case Bulletin – West Virginia Supreme Court Reverses Jury Verdict in Silica Claims Coverage Law Suit for Late Notice

At the end of 2015, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia reversed a jury verdict for $8,000,000, concluding that the Morgan County Circuit Court erred by not finding that the late notice provided by U.S. Silica precluded coverage of silica claims under three Travelers’ policies.  Applying West Virginia law, the Court cited that […]

West Virginia Updates November 3, 2015

Case Bulletin – West Virginia Supreme Court Rules That Tenant Is Not An Equitable Insured

The West Virginia Supreme Court recently decided a case concerning whether a tenant is considered an equitable insured under a policy issued to the owner/landlord.  In Farmers & Mechanics Mut. Ins. Co. v. Allen, the insurer for the owner/landlord brought a subrogation claim against the estate of a tenant who had died in a fire […]

West Virginia Updates June 21, 2015

West Virginia Update: If you do not intend to indemnify for another’s negligence, say exactly that in the contract.

In Elk Run Coal Company, Inc. v. Canopius US Insurance, Inc., filed June 9, 2015, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that very broad indemnity language sufficed to require a contracting trucker to indemnify Elk Run Coal Company for injuries to the trucker’s employee caused entirely by Elk Run’s negligence. The contract’s indemnity agreement […]

West Virginia Updates June 24, 2015

West Virginia: If you do not intend to indemnify for another’s negligence, say exactly that in the contract.

In Elk Run Coal Company, Inc. v. Canopius US Insurance, Inc., filed June 9, 2015, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that very broad indemnity language sufficed to require a contracting trucker to indemnify Elk Run Coal Company for injuries to the trucker’s employee caused entirely by Elk Run’s negligence. The contract’s indemnity […]

West Virginia Updates June 14, 2015

West Virginia State Law Profile Updated By Zimmer Kunz Shareholders Stewart and DeCourcy

Shareholders George Stewart and Dara DeCourcy just completed overhauling our profile of West Virginia transportation-related tort law.   The updated profile addresses West Virginia’s 2015 tort reform legislation and current case law. You can download a copy of the profile using the link, WV State Law Profile.

West Virginia Updates May 28, 2015

Case Bulletin – West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Holds that the Criminal Behavior of a Plaintiff is Not a Bar to Recovery But a Consideration for the Jury on Comparative Fault

In Tug Valley Pharmacy v. All Plaintiffs (May 13, 2015), Plaintiff-patients of the Mountain Medical Center, most of whom were being treated as a result of workplace injuries or auto accident injuries, were prescribed controlled substances by Mountain’s physicians and ultimately alleged that they became addicted, criminally abused their prescriptions, and engaged in criminal activity related to […]

West Virginia Updates April 30, 2015

Case Bulletin – West Virginia Supreme Court Addresses Use of Writ of Prohibition

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals in State of West Virginia ex rel., West Virginia Consolidated Public Retirement Board v. Whalen, No. 14-1250 (April 13, 2015) (Jan. 2015 Term), held that in cases where it is claimed that the lower court exceeded its legitimate powers, a writ of prohibition will issue only in clear […]

West Virginia Updates April 19, 2015

Case Bulletin – West Virginia Decision Upholds Caperton Test Regarding Forum-Selection Clauses and Dismisses Case for Improper Venue

In East Coast Underground, LLC v. Daniel Utility Construction, Inc., the Circuit Court granted defendant’s motion to dismiss asserting that the Harrison County, West Virginia venue selection of the plaintiff was improper. Plaintiff-Petitioner appealed arguing that the forum-selection clause in the subject contract was unenforceable. Here, the parties entered into a subcontract which contained a […]

West Virginia Updates March 9, 2015

Governor Tomblin Signs Comparative Fault Bill Abolishing West Virginia’s Joint and Several Liability

On Thursday, March 5, 2015 Governor Tomblin signed HB 2002 into law, changing West Virginia’s joint and several liability standard – to one of comparative fault. Until now, defendants in West Virginia faced joint and several liability which meant that they could be responsible for more damages than those which actually reflect their percentage of […]

West Virginia Updates March 6, 2015

Case Bulletin – West Virginia Supreme Court Rules That “Knowledge” is the Crux of The Issue in Claim of Intentional Spoliation of Evidence

In Williams v. Werner (W.Va. Supreme Court March 2, 2015), a tractor-trailer was involved in a one-vehicle accident as a result of hazardous winter weather conditions on 1-79 near Jane Lew, West Virginia. The tractor-trailer hit a guardrail, jackknifed, overturned and slid 30 feet down the embankment. A fire had started which eventually consumed the tractor-trailer, […]

West Virginia Updates February 26, 2015

West Virginia Senate Introduces Bill Regarding Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Claims

In West Virginia, Senate Bill 411, known as “Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Claims Transparency Act and Asbestos and Silica Claims Priorities Act” was recently introduced, and is currently in the Senate Judiciary for debate.  The Bill deals with bankruptcy trust claims and other aspects of asbestos litigation in West Virginia.  The portion of the Bill relating […]

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