State ex rel. Verizon West Virginia, Inc. v. Circuit Court (Signed Opinion)Annotate this Case
Respondents were former employees of Verizon West Virginia, Inc. who filed wrongful termination claims against Verizon based upon alleged violations of the West Virginia Human Rights Act. Petitioners were Verizon and various of its managerial and similar-positioned employees (collectively, Verizon) who were named as defendants in the underlying wrongful termination proceedings. At issue before the Supreme Court was Verizon's contention that Respondents' counsel's (Law Firm) prior representation of other former employees of Verizon in substantially related matters that were settled and dismissed required Law Firm to be disqualified. The circuit court permitted Law Firm to continue its representation of Respondents. Verizon subsequently requested the issuance of a writ of prohibition disqualifying Law Firm. The Supreme Court denied the writ, finding that Verizon was not entitled to prohibitory relief because (1) Law Firm's successive representation of its former and current clients did not constitute a conflict under the West Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct; and (2) moreover, the relief requested by Verizon would impermissibly restrict Law Firm's right to practice law in contravention of the Rules of Professional Conduct.