Justia Consumer Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
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The Supreme Court granted a writ of prohibition sought by Petitioner to prohibit certification of a class of individuals who received documents from Petitioner containing language that purportedly violated the West Virginia Consumer Credit Protection Act (WVCCPA), W. Va. Code 46A-2-127(g), holding that the circuit court's order did not sufficiency analyze the predominance and superiority factors of W. Va. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(3).Respondents, like the class they proposed to represent, purchased a dissatisfactory HVAC unit from Petitioner. Respondents filed a putative class action alleging that the documents used by Petitioner violated the WVCCPA. The circuit court eventually certified a class action. Petitioner then sought a writ of prohibition challenging the class certification on two grounds. The Supreme Court denied the writ of prohibition as to the first ground but granted it as to the second, holding that the circuit court's order was conclusory as to its analysis of the predominance and superiority factors. View "State ex rel., Dodrill Heating & Cooling, LLC v. Honorable Maryclaire Akers" on Justia Law

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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

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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

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In this class action complaint alleging violations of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act the Supreme Court granted a writ of prohibition seeking to preclude the circuit court from enforcing its order granting a motion to compel discovery, holding that the circuit court clearly erred and exceeded its legitimate powers by granting the motion to compel.The order at issue compelled Petitioner to disclose the names and addresses of individuals with a West Virginia billing address who received communications from Health Care Financial Services (HCFS) during a certain time period and account information regarding the individuals who received those communications and ordered Petitioner to provide the information "in searchable format." Petitioner then filed this petition for writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court granted the writ as moulded, holding that the circuit court clearly erred in compelling Petitioner to disclose at this stage names and addresses of third-party individuals to whom debt collection letters were sent, dates of letters sent by HCFS, and other information. View "State ex rel. Health Care Alliance, Inc. v. O'Briant" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court convicting and sentencing Defendant for first-degree robbery, holding that Defendant's assignments of error did not merit relief.Defendant and his girlfriend were indicted for robbing a gambling parlor. Before trial, the girlfriend agreed to testify against Defendant. After Defendant made a series of jailhouse phone calls to his girlfriend, she withdrew her plea agreement and declared she would not testify against Defendant. The circuit court granted the State's motion to admit the girlfriend's recorded statement into evidence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in granting the State's motion to admit the girlfriend's out-of-court statement under the forfeiture-by-wrongdoing doctrine; (2) the circuit court properly found that Defendant had engaged in wrongdoing that would support the admission of the girlfriend's out-of-court statement; (3) Defendant did not receive ineffective assistance of trial counsel; and (4) the court's answer to a jury question was not in error. View "State v. Jako" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied Defendants' petition for a writ of prohibition prohibiting the circuit court from enforcing its order permitting the Attorney General to amend a complaint and granting the Attorney General's motion to sever the counts in the complaint for discovery and trial, holding that the circuit court did not err as a matter of law or exceed its legitimate powers.The order at issue permitted the parties to conduct discovery regarding whether the discovery rule tolled the statute of limitation on the Attorney General's claim that Defendants violated the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act (CCPA) and allowed the parties to discover and present evidence on whether Defendants committed multiple violations of the CCPA such that the circuit court might consider imposing multiple penalties. The Supreme Court denied Defendants' petition for a writ of prohibition, holding that the circuit court had jurisdiction and did not exceed its legitimate powers. View "State, ex rel. 3M Co. v. Hoke" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court considered a question certified by the circuit court and answered that the deceptive trade practices provisions of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act (the Act), W. Va. Code 46A-6-101 to -106, do not apply to educational and recreational services offered by a religious institution.The Attorney General sued the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and Michael Bransfield, in his capacity as former bishop of the Diocese, alleging (1) the Diocese knowingly employed persons who admitted to sexually abusing others or who were credibly accused of sexual abuse at its camps and schools, and (2) by misrepresenting or hiding that danger, the Diocese violated the deceptive practices provisions of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act. The circuit court dismissed the Attorney General's claims but stayed its order and certified a question of law to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered the question in the negative, holding that the deceptive practices provisions of the Act do not apply to educational and recreational services offered by a religious institution. View "State ex rel. Morrisey v. Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court denying Petitioners' motion to compel arbitration of Respondents' claims against them, holding that a merger clause in the retail sales installment contract (RISC) between the parties served to supplant the arbitration agreement contained in the previously-executed credit application.Respondents purchased a new truck from Petitioners. Respondents first executed a credit application that contained an arbitration provision. Thereafter, the parties executed the RSIC, which did not contain an arbitration clause. After Respondents defaulted on their loan Petitioners began collection efforts. Respondents filed this complaint asserting that Petitioners harassed them by phone even after being advised they were represented by counsel. Petitioners moved to compel arbitration based on the arbitration provision contained in the credit application. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the arbitration provisions in the credit application did not survive the merger clause of the RISC, thereby nullifying Respondents' obligation to arbitrate their claims against Petitioners. View "TD Auto Finance LLC v. Reynolds" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the order of the circuit court denying a motion to compel arbitration, holding that the court's order did not contain sufficient findings of fact and conclusions of law for the Supreme Court to conduct a proper review.Plaintiff sued Defendant for invasion of privacy and alleging that they violated the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act, W.Va. Code 46A-1-101 to -8-102. Defendants moved to compel arbitration. The circuit court denied the motion to compel arbitration, apparently determining that no arbitration agreement was formed and, simultaneously, that the arbitration agreement was unconscionable and should not be enforced. The Supreme Court vacated the circuit court's order, holding that the case must be remanded to the circuit court for further proceedings, including the determination of whether any arbitration agreement existed between the parties and, if so, whether that agreement was unconscionable. View "Certegy Check Services v. Fuller" on Justia Law

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West Virginia’s consumer credit protection statute does not regulate the residential rental fees a landlord may charge a tenant pursuant to a lease for residential real property.The Attorney General filed a civil action against Defendant Landlord, one of the largest residential lessors in the state, alleging that Landlord’s residential leases included fees and charges that violated the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act (CCPA), W.Va. Code 46A-1-101 et seq. Landlord filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that the CCPA does not apply to residential leases. The circuit court denied the motion. Thereafter, the circuit court certified to the Supreme Court the question of whether the CCPA applies to the relationship between a landlord and tenant under a residential lease. The Supreme Court answered the question in the negative. View "State ex rel. Morrisey v. Copper Beech Townhome Communities Twenty-Six, LLC" on Justia Law