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January 2016 Archives

Senate Bill 274- Civil Jurisdiction of Magistrate Courts

Senate Bill 274, which was introduced on January 14, 2016, seeks to drastically change the jurisdictional limits and authority of the Magistrate Court system. As proposed, the amount in controversy jurisdictional limit would increase from $5,000 to $30,000. As a result, many more cases would be subject to litigation in the Magistrate Courts. The bill also includes a provision which would allow a Circuit Court judge to order that a case be litigated and/or tried in Magistrate Court if its amount in controversy is $30,000 or less. No other jurisdictional requirements and/or limitations are affected by this bill. Senate Bill 274 has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senate Bill 302- Limiting Product Liability Actions

One of the most significant issues in product liability litigation today is whether retailers and distributors can be held strictly liable for defective products. The majority of jurisdictions, including West Virginia, impute strict liability on retailers and distributors. Accordingly, even an innocent seller in West Virginia may be subject to liability simply due to its presence in the chain of distribution. Senate Bill 302, if enacted, seeks to limit sellers' liability in product liability actions.

West Virginia Workers' Compensation

In past sessions, several bills were proposed that would have dismantled statutory reforms to the West Virginia Workers' Compensation Act and returned West Virginia to the days of "liberal" evidentiary interpretation in Workers' Compensation matters. Notably, these bills would have eliminated the medical management rule known as "Rule 20" and given the treating physician almost complete discretion and authority to offer any treatment and add any conditions to the claim; eliminated the preponderance of the evidence standard for evidentiary interpretation and reinstated the "rule of liberality;" and created or re-created benefits which are not currently payable. Similar measures have been introduced this session, but it is not expected that any of these proposals will gain traction.

House Bill 2615- West Virginia Small Business Capital Act

At the start of the 2016 Regular Legislative Session, Delegates Lane and Faircloth introduced House Bill 2615, which creates the West Virginia Small Business Capital Act (the "Act"). The Act exempts the offer and sale of certain securities from the requirements of the West Virginia Uniform Securities Act and is designed to provide small businesses with additional start-up options.

Senate Bill 255- Permitting Creditor to Collect and Recover from Consumer Creditor's Reasonable Expenses

[The bill discussed in this blog did not pass. If you have further questions on this topic, please contact the author by calling 866.617.4736 or by using our online contact form.]

Senate Bill 111 - Prohibiting Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation

In many states, both before and after the United States Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell that effectively legalized gay marriage, legislatures and municipalities have sought to enact legislation to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in a variety of contexts. West Virginia Senate Bill 111, introduced on January 13, 2016, seeks to amend the West Virginia Human Rights Act and the West Virginia Fair Housing Act to include "sexual orientation" amongst the various protected classes identified in those anti-discrimination measures.

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