Just weeks ago the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review West Virginia case asking whether an elected judge’s refusal to recuse himself from considering a case involving his biggest campaign contributor violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. But today the Court declined to take up a related case from the state.
The court unanimously declined cert in Central West Virginia Energy Co. v. Wheeling-Pittsburg Steel. In that case, the state appellate court denied, without comment or a hearing, a petition to appeal a $219 million jury verdict with included a $100 punitive award. That case also involved a justice with ties to the parties who declined to recuse himself. More on the cases here from Lawyers USA.
In all but two states – West Virginia and Virginia – losing parties can appeal as of right under either the state constitution or a state statute. But while Virginia does not provide for an appeal as of right, there is a $350,000 statutory cap on punitive damages awards.
That leaves West Virginia as the only state where multi-million-dollar punitive awards may be denied review.
A petition for cert in a third related case, NiSource v. Tawney, was voluntarily dismissed last week.