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What Happens to the Fee-Shifting Provision of the Wage Payment and Collection Act When Wage Claims Get Resolved Pre-suit?

Cameron Brown recently appealed a Circuit Court of Wayne County order denying his “motion for reconsideration” of the court’s dismissal of his original complaint, arguing that the Circuit Court did not properly interpret the Wage Payment and Collection Act in granting respondent Grayson Assisted Living, Inc.’s motion to dismiss.

The West Virginia Supreme Court found no such error or substantial question of law. It thereby affirmed the Circuit Court’s decision and its order to deny the motion for reconsideration.

Case background

In July 2016, Brown, a former employee of the Grayson Assisted Living, Inc., filed a lawsuit asserting a claim under the Wage Payment and Collection Act. The respondent then filed a “Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim or for Judgment on the Pleadings,” arguing Brown could not recover a judgment because he pled in his complaint that he had recovered all of the unpaid wages and liquidated damages that would be due to him under the law.

Grayson Assisted Living also argued, in accordance with the law, attorney’s fees may be assessed “in the event that any judgment is awarded to the plaintiff or plaintiffs.” Therefore, because the petitioner was fully paid, he would not be eligible for a judgment and attorney’s fees.

The Circuit Court held a hearing in September 2016 and ruled in favor of Grayson Assisted Living, agreeing that because the petitioner was paid the disputed amount plus liquidated damages, there were no further unresolved issues to address. By agreeing with the Circuit Court’s decision, the state Supreme Court upholds the precedent that if wage claims are resolved before a lawsuit, the petitioner cannot receive any further judgments or attorney’s fee payments.

For more information on the precedent established and supported through this case, consult an attorney with Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe, PLLC at 304-344-0100 or contact us online.

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