Thursday, November 12, 2009

W.Va. Supreme Court finds in favor of A.T. Massey Coal Co. in closely-watched case

This time without the participation of Justice Brent Benjamin, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled again today that the Circuit Court of Boone County erred in denying A.T. Massey Coal Company's motion to dismiss, thereby nullifying the 50 million dollar jury verdict in favor of the plaintiffs. Hugh M. Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Company, Inc., No. 33350 (W.Va. Supreme Court, Nov. 12, 2009).

I've created a merge document comparing the new opinion with the 2008 opinion. As you can see, the res judicata issue was dropped from the new opinion, and Justice Davis rested the opinion solely on the forum selection clause. Former syllabus points 10 and 11 in the 2008 opinion have been replaced by new syllabus point 8 in the 2009 opinion.

The combined procedural and factual history section was divided out into 2 separate sections in the 2009 opinion, and a new section was added to discuss the Court's grounds for denying Capterton's motion seeking "affirmance of judgment or, in the alternative, for reconsideration and denial of the petition for appeal" on the grounds that the disqualification of Benjamin created a 2-2 tie, requiring the jury verdict to be affirmed.

Comparison of 2008 and 2009 Massey Opinions -

Monday, November 09, 2009

Filing of Sealed Documents and Plea Agreements in Northern District of West Virginia

I received the below notice by e-mail today:

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia has made some recent changes to sealed functionality. The outline below discusses these changes:

1. Sealing a Case or a Document Requires a Court Order
Pursuant to LR Gen P 6.01, Clerks office employees will seal documents or cases only on order of the Court. Deputy Clerks will not seal a document or a case based only on the request of an attorney.

2. Consistency in Sealing Documents
For all sealed documents, both the docket text and the document will be sealed, and it will not generate a NEF. Clerks Office staff will provide copies via email or regular mail to each appropriate recipient.

3. Proposed Plea Agreements
The Court no longer requires Proposed Plea Agreements to be filed in CM/ECF. Instead, provide the Proposed Plea Agreement directly to the respective judge.

4. Plea Agreements: Sealed
Until further notice, Plea Agreements will be sealed upon filing.

5. Documents Related to Plea Agreements
All documents related to Plea Agreements, including the signed Plea Agreement, the Waiver of Article III Judge, the entries regarding the plea hearings, and the resulting minute entry, shall be sealed.

If you have any questions about these changes, please feel free to contact Bill Hinerman, Chief Deputy Clerk, at or 304-622-8565.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Amendments to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Take Effect Next Month

Hat tip to the West Virginia Business Litigation Blog:

Amendments to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Take Effect Next Month:

Regardless of your area of specialty, if you practice in federal court, you will be affected by amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that take effect on December 1, 2009. Of particular importance are changes to calculating deadlines under Rule 6. My thanks to Mack Sperling at the North Carolina Business Litigation Report for his thorough discussion of the amendments in this post.