Pittsburgh Elevator Co. v. W.Va. Bd. of Regents

In Pittsburgh Elevator Co. v. W.Va. Bd. of Regents, 172 W. Va. 743, 310 S.E.2d 675 (1983), the plaintiffs instituted an action for damages in the Circuit Court of Monongalia County against, among others, the West Virginia Board of Regents, a state agency, and sought recovery against the State's liability insurance coverage. The Circuit Court of Monongalia County dismissed the complaint against the Board of Regents on the ground that a proceeding against a state agency may only be brought in the Circuit Court of Kanawha County, under W.Va. Code 14-2-2. On appeal in Pittsburgh Elevator, the Court declined to apply W.Va. Code 14-2-2 as the exclusive venue provision because the claim in that case was, in essence, against the Board of Regents' insurance carrier. The Court explained the "'manifest purpose'" of W.Va. Code 14-2-2 'is to prevent the great inconvenience and possible public detriment that would attend if functionaries of the state government should be required to defend official conduct and the state's property interests in sections of the commonwealth remote from the capital.' Thus, where the real party in interest is the insurance carrier which is obliged to defend the action brought against the Board of Regents, there is no rational justification for application of W.Va. Code 14-2-2. (Pittsburgh Elevator, 172 W.Va. at 757, 310 S.E.2d at 689.) Accordingly, in syllabus point 3, the Court held: The exclusive venue provision of W.Va. Code 14-2-2 is not applicable to a cause of action wherein recovery is sought against the liability insurance coverage of a state agency. Id.