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Small victory for WVU

On Monday, the Monanglia County Court in West Virginia ruled in favor of West Virginia University on the Big East's motion to dismiss. Each party moved to dismiss the complaint filed by the other, and the West Virginia court was the first to rule, deciding that it was the correct venue for an action by WVU against the Big East conference.

The Big East also requested that the court put its proceedings on hold while the Rhode Island case plays out, but the judge told attorneys that he wouldn't rule on that alternate motion until later, hopefully by January 1. If that fails, the next step for the conference will be to file an answer in the West Virginia court. They will have to respond to each of the departing school's allegations and set forth any counterclaims they might have.

The Rhode Island court hasn't ruled on West Virginia's motion to dismiss yet, but the fact that the case is likely to move forward in West Virginia makes it more likely that that court will stay its proceedings until the first case is resolved in some manner. The judge has indicated that a ruling could come later this week or next week. If the Rhode Island court were to go ahead with the case in parallel with the other court, it would raise some serious questions about the enforceability of either court's judgement if they reached different results.

While the Big East is awaiting word from the Rhode Island court, they have filed a Motion there requesting a preliminary injunction. That motion seeks to have the court grant an order preventing WVU from leaving the Big East or taking any other affirmative actions contrary to conference bylaws until the case is resolved.

A preliminary injunction is slightly easier to get approved than a temporary one, but it is by no means a certainty. Among other things, the Big East needs to show to the court that it has a strong likelihood of success (in obtaining a permanent injunction) on the merits in order to succeed.

Requesting a preliminary injunction in the Rhode Island court may also make it a moot point, as the Rhode Island court may punt on the issue now that it is known that it will go forward on the West Virginia state court. A preliminary injection won't likely be granted by a court that doesn't intend to hear the case.

The West Virginia judge wasn't entirely in WVU's favor, noting that he "might be inclined to agree with the defendants’ arguments on whether there’s merit to these allegations." There just wasn't enough evidence on the record to find in favor of the Big East at this time.

The Big East bylaws do not contain a provision regarding venue, so the determination of where this case will be heard is left to the mercy of state procedural law.