CHAPTER 55. ACTIONS, SUITS AND ARBITRATION;
ARTICLE 6. RECOVERY OF PERSONAL PROPERTY.
§55-6-1. Immediate recovery of possession of personal property;
notice and prejudgment hearing.
If the plaintiff in a civil action, whether in a circuit court
or magistrate court, for the recovery of specific goods, chattels,
or intangible personal property, shall demand immediate possession
thereof, a prejudgment hearing shall be held in not less than five
nor more than ten days after service upon the defendant of the
summons, a verified complaint describing said personal property,
and a notice of the time, place, and purpose of the prejudgment
hearing. At the prejudgment hearing an inquiry shall be held to
determine: (a) The nature of the right or contract under which the
plaintiff claims a right to immediate possession; and (b) the
nature of the defendant's right to retain possession thereof.
§55-6-2. Finding of fact by court or magistrate; bond; order for
If the court or magistrate shall conclude, upon the basis of
the evidence adduced at said prejudgment hearing, that there is a
substantial probability that the plaintiff will prevail upon trial
of the action upon the merits, the court or magistrate may order
that, upon the plaintiff's execution of a bond, with good security
to be approved by the clerk of the circuit court or the magistrate
and delivered to said clerk or magistrate in a penalty at least
double the value of the property claimed, payable to the defendant
and with condition to pay all costs and damages which may be
awarded against the plaintiff, or sustained by any person by reason
of said civil action and to have the property so claimed
forthcoming to answer any judgment or order of the court or
magistrate in said civil action, the property claimed, or any part
thereof described or designated by the court or magistrate, be
seized by and taken into the possession of a designated officer.
§55-6-3. Seizure of property by officer.
It shall be the duty of the officer to whom any such summons
or order is delivered to proceed forthwith to execute the same; and
he may, if necessary, break open and enter any house or other
inclosure in which such property may be, in order to seize the
§55-6-4. Return of property to defendant upon execution of bond.
The defendant in any such action may have the property taken
possession of by such officer, by virtue of such summons or order,
returned to him at any time within three days after such taking,
upon executing a bond with good security, to be approved by such
officer, payable to the plaintiff, in a penalty at least double the
value of such property, with condition to pay all costs and damages
which may be awarded against him in such action, and all damages
which may be sustained by any person by reason of the return of
such property to him, and to have the property forthcoming to
answer any judgment or order of the court or justice respecting the
same made at any time during the pendency of the action; which bond
shall be delivered to such officer, and by him returned to the
office of the clerk or justice who issued such summons or order.
Upon the reception of such bond by the officer aforesaid, he shall
forthwith return the property taken by him to the defendant; but in
case no such bond be delivered to such officer within such three
days, the property shall be delivered by an officer to the
§55-6-5. Exception to sufficiency of sureties.
Either party may, upon reasonable notice to the other, except
to the sufficiency of the sureties in the bond of such other party
and the court, or the judge thereof in vacation, or the justice
before whom such action is pending, may, upon the hearing of such
exceptions, make such order in the premises as may seem just and
§55-6-6. Verdict and judgment.
Upon the final trial of any such action, if the verdict be for
the plaintiff, and he be not already in the possession of the
property claimed, the judgment shall be that he recover the
possession of such property, if a recovery thereof can be had; and
if not, that he recover the value thereof as found by such verdict;
and, in either event, that he recover the damages assessed by the
jury for the detention of such property, and his costs in such
action. And it shall be the duty of the jury in such cases to
ascertain and assess such damages as the plaintiff has sustained by
reason of the detention of such property by the defendant. If the
plaintiff be already in possession of such property, the judgment
shall be that he retain the possession thereof, and for damages and
costs, as aforesaid. In case the verdict at such trial be for the
defendant, if the plaintiff be in possession of the property
claimed, the judgment shall, in like manner, ascertain and assess
the damages sustained by the defendant by reason of the detention
of such property by the plaintiff and also the value of such
property, and judgment shall be entered upon such verdict in all
respects as is provided in case the verdict be for the plaintiff.
If, on an issue concerning several things in one count, no verdict
be found for part of them, it shall not be error, but the plaintiff
shall be barred of his title to the things omitted; and if the
verdict omit price or value, the court may at any time have a jury
impaneled to ascertain the same.
The execution issued in such cases shall conform in all things
to the judgment entered therein.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2012 1st Special Session