Justice Joseph Albright
Justice Spike Maynard
CHARLESTON – The state Supreme Court case involving a woman who wrote a bounced check for car insurance simply won't die.
Justice Joseph Albright has filed a concurring opinion that takes aim at fellow Justice Spike Maynard, who previously had called the 4-1 ruling in favor of the woman "one of the most outrageous court decisions in the history of American jurisprudence."
In his concurring opinion, Albright says Maynard's statements in his dissent are "poppycock and rubbish, all bark and no bite."
Stephanie Michelle Conley wrote a worthless check to West Virginia National days before she was involved in an accident on Aug. 31, 2001. The suit says Conley's negligence was to blame for the injuries of three people.
When she notified her insurer of the accident, the company rescinded her policy effective Aug. 15, 2001, to Feb. 15, 2002. Dairyland Insurance Co. then paid $26,000 to those injured before filing a complaint against Conley.
In its 4-1 ruling, the Supreme Court said West Virginia National didn't give Conley at least 10 days notice before canceling the coverage.
In his dissent earlier this month, Maynard wrote that the majority opinion ranks "right up there with the McDonald's scalding case, the BMW bad paint job case, the Benson truck bed cocaine supervisor case, and the O.J. Simpson criminal verdict."
"Of course, something for nothing cases are not entirely unusual in West Virginia where plaintiffs regularly contend that someone, somewhere, somehow must owe them money simply because they have suffered an injury," he wrote.
"Let us be very clear about this, dear reader," Maynard wrote. "The appellee has paid NOTHING for this insurance. Absolutely nothing! Zero! Not one red cent!"
In his reply, Albright cited a state law enacted in 1967 that he said Maynard failed to acknowledge and a 1997 case in which Maynard supported a mandate that insurers give proper notice before canceling a policy.
"Let us be very clear about this, dear reader (to quote from the dissent)," Albright wrote. "The dissenting opinion contains not one shred of law, history or reasoning to support its position. In short, the dissent foments public dissatisfaction with the majority view of the case without even a passing nod to legal reasoning or authorities. Great editorial; poor legal scholarship.
"Our dissenting colleague does not -- cannot -- explain why he has changed his position, and why he thinks that the insurance company in this case can ignore that very same law."
Supreme Court of Appeals case number: 32704