Justia Construction Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's order granting summary judgment to LML Properties, LLC on Hanover Resources, LLC's complaint alleging breach of contract against LML for enforcement of $4.7 million in mechanic's liens on the basis that the mechanic's liens were invalid under West Virginia law, holding that the mechanic's liens at issue were invalid. The liens in this case were filed under W. Va. Code 38-2-31 and -32 by Hanover, a provider of coal mining services, against the fee interest of a mineral estate partially owned by LML. The circuit court concluded that the liens were invalid and granted summary judgment to LML. The Supreme Court affirmed after considering the undisputed facts in the form of stipulations by the parties regarding their contractual responsibilities along with the framework in the mechanic's lien statutes and relevant case law, holding that the circuit court did not err in granting LML's motion for summary judgment. View "Hanover Resources, LLC v. LML Properties, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied the request for extraordinary relief sought by Vanderra Resources, LLC asserting that the circuit court's denial of Vanderra's motion for summary judgment on Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC's claims against it was clearly erroneous and an abuse of the court's power, holding that because the denial of summary judgment was an interlocutory ruling, there was no error. Vanderra was a reclamation contractor hired by Chesapeake to implement a stabilization plan at one of Chesapeake's shale drill pads. While Verderra implemented the plan, earth movement and landslides occurred. Chesapeake filed suit against Vanderra to recover its costs incurred in repairing the collapsed drill pad. Vanderra filed a motion for summary judgment, which the circuit court denied on the grounds that genuine issues of material fact existed. Vanderra then brought this action for a writ of prohibition, or alternatively mandamus, arguing that the circuit court lacked any factual or evidentiary findings. The Supreme Court denied Vanderra's request, holding that the circuit court did not exceed its legitimate powers when it denied summary judgment. View "State ex rel. Vanderra Resources, LLC v. Honorable David W. Hummel" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court dismissing Petitioners’ civil action as a sanction for alleged discovery violations, holding that the circuit court abused its discretion by imposing the sanction of dismissal. Petitioners bought this civil action against Respondent alleging unfair and deceptive acts, breach of express and implied warranties, breach of contract, and other causes of action. Respondent eventually filed a second motion to dismiss the civil action as a sanction for alleged discovery violations. The circuit court identified ten instances of alleged wrongful conduct by Petitioners and granted Respondent’s motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, even assuming that there was a discovery violation, the circuit court’s imposition of the extreme sanction of dismissal was an abuse of discretion. View "Smith v. Gebhardt" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff signed a contract with Defendant for the construction of a house. The contract contained an arbitration clause. Plaintiff later brought suit against Defendant, claiming that there were defects in the house. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss and compel arbitration. The circuit court denied the motion, finding that the arbitration clause was unconscionable. Defendant appealed, arguing that the circuit court erred by ruling on questions of arbitrability despite the existence of a delegation provision in the arbitration agreement that vested the arbitrator with authority to determine issues of arbitrability relating to the dispute. The Supreme Court determined that the circuit court was within its rights not to enforce the delegation language because the language did not reflect the parties’ clear and unmistakable intention to delegate issues about the validity, revocability, or enforceability of the arbitration agreement to an arbitrator. The United States Supreme Court granted Defendant’s requested writ of certiorari, vacated the Supreme Court’s opinion, and remanded for further consideration in light of their decision in DIRECTV, Inc. v. Imburgia. The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s order, holding that because Plaintiffs never specifically challenged the delegation language before the circuit court or Supreme Court, Plaintiffs waived any right to challenge the delegation language. Remanded for arbitration. View "Schumacher Homes of Circleville v. Spencer" on Justia Law