IN THE LEGISLATIVE CLAIMS COMMISSION OF THE STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA
JASON RAY BLANKENSHIP
WEST VIRGINIA DIVISION OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION
Claimant appeared pro se.
Briana J. Marino, Assistant Attorney General, for the Respondent.
The Claimant brought this action alleging that the Respondent’s employees violated his constitutional rights while he was in the care and custody of the Respondent.
The Claimant and the Respondent, through its counsel, appeared for a hearing before the Legislative Claims Commission on December 5, 2019.
The Respondent, through its counsel, asserted that the Legislative Claims Commission did not have the requisite jurisdiction under West Virginia Code §14-2-14(5) to entertain the claims alleged in the Claimant’s Notice of Claim. The Respondent further asserted that because the Claimant’s allegations could be maintained in either a state or federal court, the claim pending before the Legislative Claims Commission should be dismissed as jurisdiction was improper.
The sole issue before the Legislative Claims Commission is jurisdiction: whether the Claims Commission possesses the statutory authority to preside over the Claimant’s claim and render a decision. West Virginia Code §14-2-14(5) sets forth the jurisdictional standards for the Legislative Claims Commission. This section specifically states:
[T]he jurisdiction of the commission shall not extend to any claim… With respect to which a proceeding may be maintained against the state, by or on behalf of the claimant in the courts of the state.
The Claimant’s Notice of Claim contains allegations of violations of his civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 and violations of his state and federal constitutional rights. These causes of actions may be maintained in either “the courts of the state” or in the federal court system. The Legislative Claims Commission is not the proper tribunal for these claims pursuant to West Virginia Code §14-2-14(5). Inasmuch as the circuit courts and magistrate courts of the State of West Virginia and the United States federal courts properly have jurisdiction over the claims alleged in the Claimant’s filing, the Legislative Claims Commission is without the requisite jurisdiction to entertain or otherwise preside over his claim. Monongalia Home Corporation dba Sundale Nursing Home v. Department of Health and Human Resources, Ct. Cl. 24 115 (2002).
After duly considering the record, including the Notice of Claim, the allegations therein and the exhibits submitted in support of the allegations, the Legislative Claims Commission hereby finds that it does not have the requisite subject matter jurisdiction as set forth in West Virginia Code §14-2-14(5) to entertain or otherwise preside over the Claimant’s claim.
Based on the foregoing, the Legislative Claims Commission is of the opinion to, and does hereby, deny the Claimant’s claim.