Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia

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This disciplinary proceeding stemmed from allegedly false statements contained in a campaign-issued flyer disseminated while Stephen O. Callaghan, Judge-Elect of the 28th Judicial Circuit was a candidate for Judge of the 28th Judicial Circuit. The West Virginia Judicial Hearing Board recommended that Judge-Elect Callaghan be disciplined for three violations of the West Virginia Code of Judicial Conduct and one violation of the West Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct. The Supreme Court adopted the Board’s recommended discipline, with modification, and found that it was appropriate to suspend Judge-Elect Callaghan from the judicial bench for a total of two years without pay, along with the recommended fine of $15,000, and reprimand as an attorney, holding (1) there was clear and convincing evidence of improper conduct presented in support of each of the violations found by the Board; and (2) Judge-Elect Callaghan’s constitutional arguments were unavailing. View "In re Hon. Stephen O. Judge-Elect Callaghan" on Justia Law

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In 2001, the decedent presented to the Wetzel County Hospital Emergency Room in New Martinsville and came under the care of Dr. Murthy, a surgeon; she slipped into shock and died the next day. Her estate filed a medical negligence action, alleging that Murthy failed to perform exploratory surgery to identify, diagnose and correct the decedent’s “intraabdominal condition.” A jury awarded $4,000,000 in compensatory damages. After the trial, the circuit court allowed amendment of the complaint to add Murthy’s insurance carrier, Woodbrook, alleging that Woodbrook made all relevant decisions for Murthy’s defense and acted vexatiously and in bad faith. Following a remand, Murthy paid a reduced judgment, plus interest, in the total amount of $1,162,741.60 and filed motions in limine to preclude certain matters from consideration on the issue of attorney fees and costs, including an unrelated case that resulted in a $5,764,214.75 verdict against Dr. Murthy in March 2007. The court dismissed Woodbrook as a party-defendant and awarded the estate attorney fees and costs. The precise calculation was to be later determined. The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia reversed, concluding that the lower court’s reliance on certain conduct by Murthy did not justify the award. View "Murthy v. Karpacs-Brown" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, an attorney practicing primarily in the Twenty-Third Judicial Circuit (judicial circuit), sought a writ of prohibition to prevent Respondents, the mental hygiene commissioners of the judicial circuit, from appointing legal counsel for alleged protected persons in actions instituted under the West Virginia Guardianship and Conservatorship Act (Act). Specifically, Petitioner asserted that W. Va. Code 44A-2-7(a) mandates that circuit courts, rather than mental hygiene commissioners, make such appointments. The Supreme Court granted the writ, holding that the provisions of section 44A-2-7(a) require the circuit court to appoint legal counsel for the alleged protected persons instituted under the Act, and therefore, Respondents exceeded their legitimate powers by appointing legal counsel for alleged protected persons under section 44A-2-7(a). View "State ex rel. Barrat v. Dalby" on Justia Law