There's never a shortage of interesting court cases to comment on in West Virginia, so why focus on one in Ohio?
It involves a Cleveland nursing home that claims it is being unfairly targeted by a Mississippi-based law firm.
Attorneys for Heartland are asking for a temporary restraining order against, and injunctive relief from, McHugh Fuller of Hattiesburg, alleging that the firm has engaged in “false and misleading advertising” that encourages lawsuits against the facility.
McHugh Fuller? That name rings a bell. Isn't that the firm that had its multimillion-dollar judgment against a West Virginia nursing home upheld (though reduced) last year by our state Supreme Court? Yes, it is.
That's the case that was featured last December on ABC's World News Tonight and Nightline, with a story headlined: “Lear Jet Justice in West Virginia? A ‘Circus Masquerading as a Court.’”
It seems that Michael Fuller, the Fuller of McHugh Fuller, had purchased a million-dollar jet from attorney Scott Segal just three years prior to his multimillion-dollar victory in our state Supreme Court. Segal, whose firm also specializes in cases against nursing homes, is the husband of Supreme Court Chief Justice Robin Jean Davis, who wrote the majority opinion favoring Fuller.
Davis says she knew nothing about the amount of the commercial transaction in which her husband benefited financially from someone who subsequently appeared in her court and benefited financially from its decision.
Nor was she aware that Fuller and his colleagues had contributed more than $35,000 to her 2012 reelection campaign.
Justice Davis rejected suggestions that she should have recused herself from the case in question. Earlier this month, she refused a request from the Dayton-based law firm of Anspach Meeks Ellenberger to recuse herself from another nursing home case.
As it happens, Anspach is the firm representing the nursing home targeted by McHugh Fuller in Ohio.
“Appearance of impropriety” is not that high of a threshold, Justice Davis. It's been met for you.