May 1st, 2020
Civil Practice In West Virginia During the Pandemic
On April 24, 2020, the West Virginia Supreme Court entered a temporary order addressing civil litigation in the state’s circuit courts.
West Virginia remains under a judicial emergency, which has stayed most civil litigation deadlines and limited access to courthouses. The April 24 order is meant to assist courts and attorneys in managing civil cases and insuring those cases progress as much as possible despite the Covid-19 pandemic. The order provides guidance on a multitude of topics.
Here are the most important ones:
- Courts are encouraged to assess the status of their pending civil cases, especially those with trial dates scheduled in the next six months. Attorneys are directed to schedule status conferences in those cases to determine if “the Covid-19 crisis affects existing deadlines or requires amendments to an existing scheduling order.” To the extent possible, courts are encouraged to conduct all proceedings by telephone or other remote technology.
- The April 24 order also addresses motion practice. Ordinarily, briefing of a motion is tied to the hearing date (i.e., responses are due two or four days before the hearing). But to make it possible for motion practice to proceed, a standard briefing schedule is being established for all pending and future motions. Specifically, response briefs will be due 14 days after service of the motion and reply briefs will be due seven days after service of the responses. Courts are empowered “to rule on fully briefed motions in civil cases” without a hearing.
- Discovery in civil cases will continue. The April 24 order encourages attorneys to work together regarding discovery matters “to the fullest extent possible consistent with their duties as advocates.” Likewise, courts are encouraged “to maintain availability to the greatest extent possible during normal business hours to resolve discovery disputes.”
- Specific guidance is also given for depositions. All depositions are to be taken remotely. Depositions of health care providers or first responders who are involved in the treatment of Covid-19 patients are not permitted without their consent or a “clear and compelling showing of good cause.” Furthermore, depositions of corporate representatives under Rule 30(b)(7) are permitted only by agreement or court order.
These are trying times but work on civil cases in West Virginia will keep moving forward. We at Bordas & Bordas are working hard through this crisis to insure our clients are fully protected and will receive full justice.