Articles Posted in West Virginia

There is a new case out in West Virginia that is worth talking about to underscore the differences between West Virginia law and Maryland law. I think the intuition of most victims – and some lawyers – would be that West Virginia law makes more sense and is likely “the way it is.” But the Maryland law is very different.

The plaintiffs were in a car accident. At-fault driver had a $25,000 policy. One plaintiff, the wife, had almost $30,000 in medical bills. Nationwide Insurance offered up the $25,000 policy on behalf of the at-fault driver to that plaintiff.

Thankfully, the plaintiff also had a $250,000 uninsured/underinsured motorist policy with State Farm. When negotiating the underinsurance claim, State Farm argued they should get a credit for the $5,000 that they paid the plaintiff in PIP. Besides the fact that State Farm likes being difficult, they had another basis: West Virginia law. Apparently, West Virginia has a “non-duplication” provision in an insurer’s underinsured motorist (UIM).

A West Virginia jury popped two Pennsylvania asbestos lawyers with a $429,240 verdict for conspiring with a West Virginia radiologist to manufacturer asbestos lawsuits against a railroad operator. This amount will likely be tripled because of the RICO violations.

This is a blog for personal injury lawyers and victims. I’m not in the habit of speaking well of the asbestos defendants because, you know, most would shoot their next-door neighbors in the back of the head if it meant making a few extra bucks… at least that is how they acted back in the day when they could have done something about this stuff.

But, apparently, the lawyers ran morally amok and got a doctor to essentially lie about 11 patients’ finding of asbestos. The claims never went anywhere but the company spent a lot of time defending these manufactured lawsuits. So bravo to the railroad company for fighting back.

Health Officials are reporting that the number of illnesses caused from individuals having consumed raw milk has risen to 35 people over four states. The confirmed cases of Campylobacter infection include 28 people in Pennsylvania, four in Maryland, two in West Virginia and one in New Jersey.

The tainted milk appears to have come from the Family Cow farm in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and health officials have said that consumers should discard raw milk bought from the Family Cow farm on or after Jan. 1. The farm has voluntarily suspended raw milk production.

The federal Food and Drug Administration warns that raw, or unpasteurized, milk can contain harmful bacteria, and Maryland law prohibits its sale. Still, dairy farmers have said that the demand is growing because of concerns about hormones in traditional dairy products.

The West Virginia Supreme Court last week dealt with a common problem in car accident cases: the defendant has no coverage. The Plaintiff, who suffered serious injuries, tried to bring a claim against Nationwide Insurance after it disclaimed coverage because the defendant’s insurance policy had been canceled. Defendant claimed he did not know the policy was canceled. (They somehow never seem to know.)
Plaintiff in this case was blameless. He was driving a van and struck a sport utility vehicle head-on. He suffered real injuries: a broken femur, concussion, low grade coma, broken nose, broken ribs, bruised shoulder, injured hips, and multiple bruises, cuts and scrapes. Plaintiff files suit and gets a default judgment of over $6 million. Of course, that and a quarter will buy you a turn at the arcade.

Continue reading

West Virginia medical malpractice lawyers are chasing the path set by Illinois malpractice lawyers (and trying to avoid the path of Maryland malpractice lawyers) in contesting the cap on noneconomic damages in West Virginia malpractice lawsuits.

In 1986, West Virginia enacted a cap on pain and suffering awards in malpractice cases. The cap was originally set at $1 million, but has been knocked back to $250,000 for most malpractice lawsuits and $500,000 for the most severe claims. Additionally, the cap applies no matter how many plaintiffs there are, so multiple plaintiffs have to split the award, which can be no more than $500,000.

After their $1.5 million verdict was reduced in a malpractice claim involving rhabdomyolysis, a West Virginia couple is making the same case that was argued successfully in Illinois and unsuccessfully in Maryland: the cap is unconstitutional because it deprives plaintiffs of their right to a jury trial.

A personal injury lawsuit has been filed against a bar in Charleston by a man who was shot in stomach in 2008. Plaintiff’s lawsuit claims that the bar was negligent in allowing entry to the guy with the gun. The gist of the argument appears to be the employees who saw the gun but did nothing about it.

I really hate these types of cases. The bar’s duty to make take affirmative action really should always depend on the context. Does he have a license to carry a gun? Was he acting in such a way as to lead a reasonable person to believe he was a danger to himself or others?

The Baltimore Injury Lawyer Blog has a post on a Maryland Daily Record article looking at how President-Elect Barack Obama might change the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals which includes Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

I’ve spent far more time thinking about how President Obama will change the country than his impact on lawyers or even my own clients. But President Obama will nominate judges that I will stand before and argue. While I think President Bush has nominated a lot of good judges, this fact makes me a little happier to be a lawyer today. I’m not saying every plaintiffs’ lawyer will have a better shot at success in front of judges nominated by Obama. I just think they are likely to be fair and reasonable judges.

West Virginia has prohibited lawyers from seeking damages in auto accident, medical malpractice and other personal injury cases in a complaint. The legislation passed unanimously through the West Virginia legislature.

West Virginia already has a similar law in medical malpractice cases. Other jurisdictions should follow suit because of the insanity of reporters reporting on the amount of the ad damnum clause – which has absolutely nothing to do with the true damages sought – was an embarrassment to all lawyers handling personal injury cases.

Steve Cohen writes a column in the West Virginia Record on lawsuit abuse today in West Virginia. Like the editorial I discussed last week, it is just silly. No effort to obtain the real facts is made. The lawyer complaints that the problem is with West Virginia personal injury lawyers. Yet, none of the cases he cites are personal injury cases. Is the insanity of this lost on everyone at the West Virginia Record?
The latest case of which he complains is a Kanawha County jury verdict that awarded a Charleston surgeon $5 million in compensatory and $20 million in punitive damages, deciding that hospital executives smeared Hamrick’s reputation and wrongfully revoked his privileges in a dispute over the doctor’s malpractice insurance. Setting aside the fact that this is not a personal injury case in any way, shape, or form, how Mr. Cohen – who knows so little about the case he thinks it is a personal injury case – feels comfortable calling the very lawsuit absurd is a slap in the face to the Kanawha County jury that listened to the evidence and rendered a verdict.

Contact Information