MARTINGSBURG - Fourteen lawsuits against Mountain State University, former President Charles H. Polk and mother MSU entities have been remanded back to Jefferson Circuit Court because racketeering claims have been dropped.
Mountain State University Building Company; Mountain State University Foundation Inc.; and Mountain State University Endowment Fund Inc. were also named as defendants in the suit.
On July 25, Valeri Dillow, Chika Geraldine Ahunana, Ernest Aknonwah, Tabitha Barrett, Amanda Barton, Jamie Beachley, Christina Kamuga, Nikki Kendig, Divine Kum, Laverne Pauline Waters, Sufyan, Turay, Victorine Ngang, Nur Muhammed and Stephanie Mitchell and the defendants filed a Joint Motion to Remand, which the court granted, according to an Order Granting Joint Motion to Remand filed Aug. 1 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia at Martinsburg.
On Aug. 6, 2012, the plaintiffs, who are former nursing students at MSU, filed their complaints in Jefferson Circuit Court and on Sept. 20, the defendants filed a Notice of Removal to remove the action to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.
On Dec. 21, the court denied the plaintiffs' motion to remand the case to state court because it had original jurisdiction over Count One of their amended complaints, which involved claims under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, according to the notice.
On April 3, the parties filed a Joint Motion to Stay Proceedings and Refer Cases to Mediation. The parties requested the court to stay its proceedings and refer the cases to mediation by the Resolution Judges of West Virginia's Mass Litigation Panel.
On May 28, the court granted in part and denied in part the parties' motion by agreeing to grant a stay in the cases and refer them to mediation, but denied their motion to specifically refer the cases to West Virginia's Mass Litigation Panel for mediation because "the Court has no authority to order such action and the Mass Litigation Panel...declined to mediate the...cases," the notice states.
On July 1, the plaintiffs filed a Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint, and on July 22, the Court granted the plaintiffs' motion, according to the suit.
On July 22, the plaintiffs filed their amended complaint, removing their claims under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. All remaining claims are state law claims.
Therefore, when then parties jointly filed the Joint Motion to Remand the case to Jefferson Circuit Court, the court agreed.
Lawsuits filed against Mountain State allege students who were admitted to the nursing program were informed it was accredited by National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission and West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses, but later discovered the nursing program did not have full accreditation status.
In 2008, the NLNAC voted to place the nursing program at MSU on warning and scheduled the next evaluation visit for spring 2010.
After the spring 2010 visit by the NLNAC, the commission voted to deny continuing accreditation to the BSN program, and the defendants failed to inform the students of the accreditation denial and encouraged them to continue paying for and participating in the program, according to the suits.
The lawsuits claim that on Nov. 12, 2010, the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses voted unanimously to require that MSU’s BSN program cease and desist all admissions to all nursing programs/pathways or any other program representing progression toward a nursing degree for a minimum of 15 months.
The defendants were allegedly negligent in keeping the students informed and breached the contract with the plaintiffs by failing to provide the education opportunity promised.
On Aug. 1, the University of Charleston announced it is taking over Mountain State University’s campuses in Beckley and Martinsburg.
The case was assigned to District Judge Gina M. Groh.
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia at Martinsburg case numbers: 3:12-cv-98, 3:12-cv-99, 3:12-cv-100, 3:12-cv-101, 3:12-cv-102, 3:12-cv-103, 3:12-cv-104, 3:12-cv-105, 3:12-cv-106, 3:12-cv-107, 3:12-cv-108, 3:12-cv-109, 3:12-cv-110, 3:12-cv-111