RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE FOR THE MAGISTRATE COURTS OF WEST VIRGINIA


RULE 1. APPLICATION OF RULES
These rules apply to all civil cases in the magistrate courts of the State of West Virginia. These rules supplement, and in designated instances supersede, the statutory procedures set forth in Chapter 50 of the West Virginia Code. The purpose of the rules is to help resolve cases in a just, speedy, and inexpensive manner.

[Effective July 1, 1988.]


RULE 2. COMPLAINT
A civil action is commenced by filing a complaint with the magistrate assistant, magistrate clerk, or magistrate deputy clerk. A complaint shall contain:
(a) A short and plain statement of the claim showing that the plaintiff is entitled to relief; and
(b) A demand for judgment for the relief the plaintiff seeks.

[Effective July 1, 1988.]


RULE 3. SERVICE OF PROCESS
The summons and complaint in civil actions shall be served upon the defendant in the same manner as is provided by Rule 4 of the Rules of Civil Procedure for Trial Courts of Record.
[Effective July 1, 1988.]


RULE 4. ANSWER
(a) Filing and Service. An answer to a complaint shall be filed by the defendant with the magistrate assistant, magistrate clerk, or deputy clerk. The defendant shall serve a copy of the answer upon the plaintiff in the manner set forth in Rule 8.
(b) Time. The answer shall be filed and served by the defendant:
(1) Within 20 days after service of the summons and complaint; or
(2) If service of the summons and complaint is made upon an agent or attorney in fact authorized to accept service upon the defendant, within 30 days after service; or
(3) Not later than the date specified in an order of publication; or
(4) In cases of unlawful entry and detainer and wrongful occupation of residential rental property, within 5 days after service of the summons and complaint.
(c) Motions to Transfer. A defendant may, in his answer or within a reasonable time, move to transfer the case to the magistrate court of another county. The motion shall be ruled on promptly by the magistrate. Upon request by any party, the magistrate may schedule a pretrial hearing on the motion in accordance with Rule 11. If the magistrate finds that venue is improper or that, under West Virginia Code §56-1-1(b), transfer to the magistrate court of another county would promote convenience and the ends of justice, the magistrate shall transfer the case to the magistrate court of the proper county.
(d) Failure to State Defense. The failure of the defendant to state a particular defense in an answer shall not prevent the defendant from raising such defense at trial.

[Effective July 1, 1988; amended effective July 1, 1990; August 1, 1991.]


RULE 5. COUNTERCLAIM AND CROSS-CLAIM
(a) Counterclaim. A defendant may state as a counterclaim any claim that the defendant has against the plaintiff that is within the jurisdiction of magistrate court. Such counterclaim may be stated together with the defendant's answer and may be filed and served in the same manner as the defendant's answer, without additional cost. A reply to a counterclaim shall not be required.
(b) Failure to File Counterclaim. The failure of a defendant to institute a counterclaim permitted by this rule shall not preclude the institution of a separate action on such claim at a later time.
(c) Cross-Claim. In a case where there are two or more defendants, a defendant may state as a cross-claim any claim that the defendant has against another defendant arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the complaint. Such cross-claim may be stated together with the defendant's answer and may be filed and served in the same manner as the defendant's answer, without additional cost. An answer to a cross-claim shall not be required.

[Effective July 1, 1988.]


RULE 6. THIRD-PARTY COMPLAINT
(a) If the defendant alleges that another person, who is not named as a party in the case, is wholly or partially responsible for the damages set forth in the complaint, the defendant may file a third-party complaint against such person. No filing fee shall be required.
(b) A third-party summons and complaint shall be served upon the third-party defendant in the same manner as an initial summons and complaint. A third-party complaint shall be answered in the same manner as is provided by Rule 4.

[Effective July 1, 1988.]


RULE 6A. ELECTION OF JURY TRIAL
(a) Right to Elect. A party to a civil action in magistrate court has the right to elect that the matter be tried by a jury when the amount in controversy exceeds twenty dollars or involves possession to real estate. All parties to such cases shall be notified in writing of the right to election.
(b) Assertion of the Right. The election must be made in writing by the party asserting the right any time after the commencement of the action but not later than
(1) 20 days after the service of any first timely filed answer to the complaint, or
(2) 5 days after service of the summons and complaint in cases involving expedited proceedings such as actions for unlawful entry and detainer and wrongful occupation. When the right to a jury trial is asserted in a case involving an expedited proceeding, the trial shall be scheduled as soon as a jury panel can be assembled.
Failure to elect within the relevant time limit constitutes a waiver of the right to trial by jury.

[Adopted effective July 1, 1994.]


RULE 7. AMENDED AND SUPPLEMENTAL PLEADINGS
Upon request by any party, the magistrate may permit the filing of an amended pleading, or amendment by interlineation, at any stage of the proceeding and upon such terms as may be just. Upon request, the magistrate may also permit the filing of supplemental pleadings asserting claims or defenses which have arisen since the date of the pleading to be supplemented. Permission to file an amended or supplemental pleading shall be freely given, and may be done with or without a hearing. Continuances to meet new matter asserted by way of amended or supplemental pleadings shall be granted if necessary to avoid surprise or other prejudice to the opposing party.

[Effective July 1, 1988; amended effective August 1, 1991.]