Insurance Law

West Virginia Supreme Court Insurance Coverage Ruling Could Apply to Asbestos Cases

By James J. A. Mulhall

The West Virginia Supreme Court [enhanced version available to subscribers] has held that a trial court’s decision on a forum non conveniens motion will only be overturned if there was an abuse of discretion. The recent case involved alleged occupational pneumoconiosis claims and related claims about insurance coverage.

West Virginia’s forum non conveniens statute from 2012 [enhanced version available to subscribers] provides criteria for trial courts to analyze when considering whether a case that has been filed in West Virginia should remain in the court in which it was filed. When a court decides whether to keep a case in West Virginia, great deference is given to the plaintiff’s choice of forum by filing suit in the state. Additional criteria includes:

·   Whether an alternate forum exists for the claim

·   Whether maintaining the claim in the West Virginia court would work substantial injustice

·   Whether another forum has jurisdiction

·   The state in which the plaintiff resides

·   The state in which the action occurred

·   A balancing of interests for determining an appropriate forum

·   Whether a stay or dismissal would result in duplication of litigation

·   Whether the alternate forum provides a remedy

The March 27, 2014 holding will be applicable to forum non conveniens motions in West Virginia, including motions filed in West Virginia asbestos cases.