Fayette County National Bank v. Lilly

In Fayette County National Bank v. Lilly, 199 W. Va. 349, 484 S.E.2d 232 (W. Va. 1997) the West Virginia Supreme Court was faced with an identical procedural rule and prior case law stating that it was "totally improper for the trial court to make findings of fact in connection with granting a summary judgment motion as the very nature of summary judgment is that there is no genuine issue of material fact, entitling the moving party to judgment as a matter of law." In reconciling seemingly opposing contentions, the court there stated: "We are fully cognizant that a majority of jurisdictions do not require trial courts to set out findings in orders granting summary judgment. . . . We believe this approach is grounded in blind adherence to fictional legal form that sacrifices concrete legal substance. Requiring that meaningful findings be set out in orders granting summary judgment does not somehow transform circuit courts into triers of fact -- engaging in weighing evidence and credibility determinations that are prerequisites for disputed jury facts. In reviewing a circuit court's order granting summary judgment this Court, like all reviewing courts, engages in the same type of analysis as the circuit court. . . . In the final analysis, it is illogical to prohibit circuit courts from making meaningful findings in granting summary judgment. . . . We are simply requiring meaningful findings that will guide our review of decisions on summary judgment. . . . To be clear, being explicit about its reasoning not only assists the hearing tribunal in analyzing legal claims and the equities of the situation, but also facilitates appellate review. (484 S.E.2d at 236 n.8.)