Tri-State Petroleum Corp. v. Coyne (Signed Opinion)Annotate this Case
The circuit court found merit in Petitioners’ assignments of error regarding attorneys’ fees and prejudgment interest in this litigation in which a jury awarded Respondent damages on his breach of contract and fiduciary duty claims and attorneys’ fees in the amount of $1.5 million and prejudgment interest in the amount of $959,000.
Respondent and his brothers and sisters owned three corporations and one limited partnership. After Respondent’s employment with one corporation was terminated and his shares and interest in the remaining entities were redeemed, Respondent sued his four siblings and the four entities (collectively, Petitioners). Respondent prevailed after an eleven-day trial. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) Petitioners were not entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Respondent’s breach of contract and fiduciary duty claims; (2) the circuit court abused its discretion in awarding attorneys’ fees without making sufficient findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding Respondent’s entitlement to the sum awarded or its reasonableness; and (3) the circuit court erred by finding that the entire jury verdict in this case, net of offsets, constituted “special damages” subject to W. Va. Code 56-3-31 and awarding Respondent prejudgment interest.