MORGANTOWN – The state Supreme Court heard appeals in four cases March 5 at the West Virginia University College of Law.
One of the appeals concerned a $150,000 judgment against Mountain State College of Parkersburg, an institution founded in 1888.
In the case argued before the Supreme Court, Mountain State was ordered by Kanawha County Circuit Court to pay $50,000 each to plaintiffs Sheryl Holsinger, Sandra Carpenter and Mary Yeater.
“Prior to the trial, the court entered several critically important, correct orders to preclude untenable legal theories and prohibit hearsay or otherwise inadmissible evidence,” Mountain State’s appeal brief says.
“But the college’s reliance on those rulings was misplaced – from the outset of the trial, Plaintiffs’ counsel repeatedly violated the court’s pretrial orders, which the court inexplicably declined to enforce.
“Having been prepared to address at trial the claims based on the alleged promises of employment upon graduation, the college was forced to defend on the fly and without all the necessary witnesses…”
The plaintiffs graduated from the college’s legal assisting program in 1992 and filed lawsuit six years, seeking cancellation and/or recission of their guaranteed student loans, reimbursement of monies expended and other damages.
They alleged the college fraudulently induced their enrollment and failed to provide good educational services. During the course of the lawsuit, two plaintiffs were dismissed, as were claims against various financial institutions.
Judge Tod Kaufman handled the case. The college alleged several errors at the trial court level entitled it to judgment as a matter of law. They are:
-The plaintiffs’ claims were time-barred;
-There can be no restitution or other relief against the college for loans that the college neither made, held, nor attempted to enforce;
-Plaintiffs' claims based on the quality of educational services were not actionable;
-Plaintiffs' claims arising out of any loan were relinquished when they consolidated their loans after leaving the college;
-Plaintiffs never pled a breach of contract claim, but even if they had done so, their contracts with the college were in writing and fulfilled by the college;
-Plaintiffs failed to present evidence sufficient for the jury to have found any compensatory damages; and
-Plaintiffs were not entitled to recover attorney fees from the college.
The college added four errors that would entitle it to a new trial. Those included evidence that was admitted and jury instructions.
The first trial was held in May 2010.
Also on the docket was the appeal of Jennifer A. Fillinger, a Lincoln County woman who was fired from her position as a registered nurse at Charleston Area Medical Center in 2008.
Fillinger was fired as a result of data collected in a machine that dispensed medicine for patients. It said use authorized by her pass code did not correlate with either drug inventories or patient records.
CAMC concluded she was unlawfully obtaining prescription narcotics for personal use or distribution, her appeal brief says.
In 2009, she was fired by Logan Regional Medical Center based on data from a similar type of machine.
She says she has volunteered for and passed drug tests and has never been accused or investigated by any law enforcement agency.
Fillinger is frustrated with the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses, arguing that it calls last-minute hearings and otherwise delays the administrative process for handling complaints.
“As a regulatory agency, Respondent does not have a process or a procedure to allow for pre-hearing motions or arguments or even to involve or hire a hearing examiner who could hear such motions in advance of a schedule hearing,” the brief says.
She is asking the Supreme Court to compel the agency to dismiss all charges against her.
The subject of one of the other appeals was an action brought by the University Commons Riverside Homeowners Association in Star City, which alleges those responsible for the construction of the University Commons ”built a financial, structural and environmental disaster that will cost millions of dollars to repair.”
The fourth appeal concerned a DUI case from Berkeley County.
From the West Virginia Record: Reach John O’Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org.