Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
W. Va. Department of Environmental Protection v. Dotson
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) motion for summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds, holding that the DEP was entitled to qualified immunity.Plaintiffs suffered damages to personal and real property as a result of severe flooding of Bull Creek in McDowell County. Plaintiffs filed suit against Twin Star Mining, Inc. and the DEP, claiming negligence. The DEP moved for dismissal on the basis of qualified immunity and the public duty doctrine. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred in denying the DEP's motion for summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity. View "W. Va. Department of Environmental Protection v. Dotson" on Justia Law
Scherich v. Wheeling Creek Watershed Protection & Flood Prevention Commission
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court dismissing the underlying eminent domain action, holding that the sua sponte dismissal of this action without notice and an opportunity to be heard required reversal of the circuit court's order.In 1990, Respondent, the Wheeling Creek Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Commission, filed a condemnation proceeding against Petitioners' property. In 1991, Respondent received right of entry and Petitioners received Respondent's statement of just compensation. The matter lay dormant until 2018 when Petitioners filed a motion for further proceedings to determine just compensation. The circuit court (1) concluded that estoppel, laches, and applicable statutes of limitation or repose prevented Petitioners from resurrecting the matter; and (2) sua sponte found that Petitioners' withdrawal of Respondent's estimate of just compensation without further proceedings until now was sufficient proof of accord and satisfaction. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the circuit court erred by failing to notify the parties of its intent to dispose of the matter and provide them a meaningful opportunity to respond and be heard; and (2) none of the doctrines espoused by the circuit court to preclude further prosecution prevented Petitioners from resurrecting this matter. View "Scherich v. Wheeling Creek Watershed Protection & Flood Prevention Commission" on Justia Law
Smith v. Chestnut Ridge Storage, LLC
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying Petitioners' motion for summary judgment, holding that Petitioners were immune from Respondent's lawsuit pursuant to the litigation privilege and the Noerr-Pennington doctrine.Petitioners executed an oil and gas lease to a company that assigned 2,300 acres of Petitioners' tract to Respondent for a storage project. Respondent then applied to FERC for a certificate of public convenience and necessity to construct and operate a storage field. Petitioners intervened in the FERC proceeding. FERC eventually granted Respondent's request. When Respondent did not complete construction of the storage facility within the required amount of time it sought a three-year extension. Petitioners opposed the extension, and FERC denied Respondent's request to extend the timeframe. Thereafter, Petitioners filed suit against Respondent alleging breach of contract and seeking declaratory judgment. Respondent filed a counterclaim alleging, inter alia, breach of contract. Petitioners filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that they were immune from suit pursuant to the litigation privilege and the Noerr-Pennington doctrine. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the litigation privilege and Noerr-Pennington doctrine provided Petitioners with immunity from all of Respondent's counterclaims. View "Smith v. Chestnut Ridge Storage, LLC" on Justia Law
Antero Resources Corp. v. Steager
In this tax appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the final order of the circuit court determining that certain purchases of tangible personal property and services made by Antero Resources Corporation did not qualify for the direct use exemption under W. Va. Code 9(b)(2) and 11-15A-3(a)(2) (the direct use exemption), holding that Antero was entitled to the direct use exemption for certain purchases and services.The office of tax appeals reimposed a sale and use tax assessment against Antero for purchases and rentals of certain personal property and services. The circuit court reversed, determining that because certain purchases of tangible personal property and services made by Antero were not directly used in its natural resource production, they did not qualify for the direct use exemption. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that Antero (1) was entitled to the direct use exemption for crew quarters and related equipment, portable toils, sewage systems, related water systems, and septic cleaning charges; and (2) was not entitled to the exemption for the rentals of trash trailers and waste receptacles. View "Antero Resources Corp. v. Steager" on Justia Law
Sheehan v. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.
The Supreme Court answered in the affirmative a question certified to it by the Bankruptcy Court for the North District of West Virginia, concluding that a manufactured home with a title issued by the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) may be converted to real property by operation of common law even when the home still maintains a motor vehicle title.At issue was how, under state law, one can perfect a security interest upon a manufactured home that maintains both personal and real property characteristics. The Supreme Court determined that satisfying the requirements of Snuffer v. Spangler, 92 S.E. 106 ( W. Va. 1917) converts the legal character of a manufactured home from personal to real property such that a lien on that property may be perfected by deed of trust even if the home's owners have not cancelled the DMV title under the cancellation procedure of W. Va. Cod3 17A-3-12b(a). View "Sheehan v. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc." on Justia Law
Johnson v. Pinson
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court granting summary judgment to Ruth Ann Pinson and dismissing Denise Johnson's claim that Ruth's husband, Mark Pinson, violated West Virginia's Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act's (UFTA), W. Va. Code 40-1A-1 to -15, prohibition against fraudulent transfers, holding that Plaintiff did not present evidence demonstrating the existence of a material fact regarding Mark's status as her debtor within the meaning of the UFTA.Johnson asserted that Mark conveyed real property to Ruth with the intent to hinder, delay, or defraud Johnson's attempt to collect on a judgment assigned to her by a third party. The circuit court found that Ruth was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not misinterpret the UFTA or err in denying Johnson's motion to amend the complaint to add Mark as a defendant. View "Johnson v. Pinson" on Justia Law
Carr v. Veach
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court denying Petitioners' motion for a new trial and renewed motion for a new trial after a bench trial, holding that the circuit court did not err in finding that Petitioners had neither an express easement nor a prescriptive easement across Respondents' property.At issue was an internal private road on Respondents' property that stretched to Petitioners' property. Respondents eventually revoked permission to use the internal road and blocked Petitioners' access across the private road. The circuit court determined that Petitioners had neither an express easement nor a prescriptive easement across Respondents' property. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in finding (1) no express easement existed that granted Petitioners the right to use the private road crossing Respondents' property; and (2) no easement across Respondents' land was established by prescription. View "Carr v. Veach" on Justia Law
McElroy Coal Co. v. Dobbs
The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's grant of partial summary judgment finding that Gary Dobbs retained his right to purchase pasture land under a 1976 option agreement and that Terry and Catherine Dobbs triggered that right to purchase when they signed a 2007 option agreement, holding that the circuit court did not err.After Lyle Hobbs died, the land he owned passed to his wife and two sons, Terry and Gary. The trio conveyed a small parcel to the sons for a slaughterhouse. The remaining land, including a pasture, was conveyed to Terry and his wife, Catherine. Gary reserved the right to buy back the pasture land if Terry died or if Terry and Catherine decided to sell or assign the pasture land. Gary subsequently purchased the slaughterhouse property at auction. Decades later, Terry and Catherine entered into an option agreement with McElroy Coal Company to either sell the pasture land or provide McElroy Coal a waiver of liability for the company's mining operations. McElroy Coal chose a waiver and paid Terry and Catherine. Thereafter, Gary sued McElroy Coal and Terry and Catherine, alleging that they breached the 1976 option agreement. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Gary. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err. View "McElroy Coal Co. v. Dobbs" on Justia Law
EQT Production Co. v. Antero Resources Corp.
The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's order granting Antero Resources Corporation partial summary judgment on its claim for declaratory judgment, holding that the court did not err in concluding that the Antero top lease took priority over the EQT Production Company base lease covering the same property.Larry and Linda Lemasters, who owned the oil and gas underlying a tract of land, entered into an oil and gas lease (the base lease) with an LLC that later assigned the lease to EQT. The Lemasters subsequently entered into an oil and gas lease with Antero (the top lease). The lease was made effective immediately upon expiration of the primary term of the base lease. The Lemasters and EQT (together, Defendants) subsequently entered into a base lease amendment agreeing to extend the primary term of the base lease. Antero filed a complaint against Defendants asserting claims for, inter alia, breach of contract and declaratory judgment. The circuit court awarded summary judgment for Antero on its declaratory judgment claim, determining that the base lease and its amendment were subject to the Antero top lease. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court did not err in declaring that the top lease was the valid and existing oil and gas lease covering the subject property. View "EQT Production Co. v. Antero Resources Corp." on Justia Law
Bison Interests, LLC, v. Antero Resources Corp.
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court granting summary judgment for Antero Resources Corp. and declaring that Bison Interests, LLC was entitled to no overriding royalty interest in the Marcellus shale formation underlying certain gas wells, holding that the declaratory judgment sought by Antero was barred by the doctrines of res judicata and judicial estoppel.The circuit court found Antero's action was barred neither by res judicata nor collateral estoppel because the issue of Bison's entitlement to an overriding royalty in the Marcellus shale production had not been finally adjudicated in prior litigation. The court further found that Antero was not judicially estopped from bringing its claim. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Antero's action for declaratory relief was barred by the doctrine of res judicata; and (2) Antero's action was similarly, and independently, barred by the doctrine of judicial estoppel. View "Bison Interests, LLC, v. Antero Resources Corp." on Justia Law