CHARLESTON -- The National College of Virginia Inc. says an investigation started by West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw is unlawful.
On Nov. 9, McGraw served National College with a subpoena to produce certain records covering a period from Jan. 1, 2008, to the present, according to a complaint filed Dec. 9 in Kanawha Circuit Court.
National College claims at the time McGraw served the subpoena, he had not filed a civil action against the college and before serving the subpoena, he did not notify the college of any complaints received in his office regarding the college and its business practices.
The college believes McGraw has not received any complaints and the college has no knowledge of any identifiable concerns McGraw may have relating to its business practices, according to the suit.
National College claims McGraw undertook an unlawful investigation into the college and impermissibly issued an investigatory subpoena, returnable in Charleston on Dec. 12.
The attorney general's investigation and the subpoena "exceed the scope of his statutory authority as provided by West Virginia Legislature and encroach on the authority granted by the West Virginia Legislature to the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission," according to the suit.
National College claims even if McGraw is authorized to undertake such an investigation into an institution of higher education, he is required to comply with specific statutory requirements, including a requirement for probable cause to conduct an investigation and the adherence to several procedural safeguards expressly imposed by the West Virginia Legislature.
The defendant has not identified probable cause and has not complied with the procedural requirements, according to the suit.
Chief Deputy Attorney General Fran Hughes defended the subpoena.
"We have legitimate subpoena powers that I believe the court will uphold," she said Wednesday. "I don't think that their lawsuit has merit, and I'm confident we'll prevail."
National College is seeking for the court to enjoin McGraw from enforcing the subpoena. It is being represented by Niall A. Paul, James S. Crockett Jr. and Timothy D. Houston.
The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Louis H. Bloom.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 11-C-2206