Case: McGee v. Cole

3:13-cv-24068 | U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia

Filed Date: Oct. 1, 2013

Closed Date: 2015

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On October 1, 2013, three same-sex couples and the minor child of one of the couples filed a lawsuit against Kanawha County, West Virginia in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. The plaintiffs, represented by Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund, asked the court to declare unconstitutional any West Virginia laws banning same-sex marriage, to enjoin West Virginia from refusing to recognize same-sex marriages undertaken in other states, and to award the plaintiffs…

On October 1, 2013, three same-sex couples and the minor child of one of the couples filed a lawsuit against Kanawha County, West Virginia in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. The plaintiffs, represented by Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund, asked the court to declare unconstitutional any West Virginia laws banning same-sex marriage, to enjoin West Virginia from refusing to recognize same-sex marriages undertaken in other states, and to award the plaintiffs reasonable attorney's fees and costs of suit.

The plaintiffs claimed that their rights under the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the United States Constitution were violated. They further asserted that the ban on same-sex marriage discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation, sex, and parental status. The plaintiffs also alleged that they were being denied a multitude of other social and legal rights that marriage provides.

On December 2, 2013, the Court (Judge Robert C. Chambers) granted the State of West Virginia's Motion to intervene as a defendant. On January 29, 2014, The District Court (Robert C. Chambers, Chief Judge) held that: the Court would consider the case law, but not legal argument, contained in untimely notice of supplemental authority filed by plaintiffs; the action did not present difficult questions of state law, therefore the case would remain in federal court; the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge constitutionality of the non-recognition statute, however, the plaintiffs were allowed to challenge the other parts the West Virginia marriage ban. 993 F. Supp .2d 639.

The Court stayed the case on June 10, 2014, pending the outcome of Bostic v. Schafer, a Fourth Circuit case that had a substantial overlap in issues with McGee v. Cole. The holding in Bostic, that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional, controlled this case.

On November 7, 2014, the Court, in keeping with Bostic, applied strict scrutiny to the marriage ban and found that it was not narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling state interest, and decided in favor of the plaintiffs. It issued an opinion and order that granted the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, while denying the State of West Virginia's motion to dismiss. In the order, the Court disagreed that there would be uniformity problems regarding the enforcement of the marriage ban across the counties of West Virginia. While the defendants claimed that the decision would only ban the named clerks from denying same-sex couples marriage licenses, the Court found that would not be the case. The Court further held that the marriage ban was not a narrowly-tailored state interest and that it violated the plaintiffs' constitutional rights under the Due Process and Equal Protection Laws under the Fourteenth Amendment. The case ended on November 7, 2014.

On July 16, 2015, Judge Chambers awarded the plaintiffs $92,125 in attorneys’ fees, including paralegal fees, and $7,679.64 in costs and expenses. The case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Megan Dolan (2/16/2015)

Claire Lally (3/15/2015)

Mary Kate Sickel (3/25/2018)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/5525202/parties/mcgee-v-cole/


Judge(s)

Chambers, Robert Charles (West Virginia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Harrison, Lindsay C (District of Columbia)

Kittredge, Heather Foster (West Virginia)

Leowy, Karen L. (New York)

Littrell, Elizabeth Lynn (Georgia)

McCotter, R. Trent (District of Columbia)

Platzer, Luke C. (District of Columbia)

Smith, Paul M. (District of Columbia)

Taylor, Camilla B. (Illinois)

Tinney, John H. Jr. (West Virginia)

Judge(s)

Chambers, Robert Charles (West Virginia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Harrison, Lindsay C (District of Columbia)

Kittredge, Heather Foster (West Virginia)

Leowy, Karen L. (New York)

Littrell, Elizabeth Lynn (Georgia)

McCotter, R. Trent (District of Columbia)

Platzer, Luke C. (District of Columbia)

Smith, Paul M. (District of Columbia)

Taylor, Camilla B. (Illinois)

Tinney, John H. Jr. (West Virginia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Bailey, Charles R. (West Virginia)

Hall, Lee Murray (West Virginia)

Walling, Sarah A. (West Virginia)

Other Attorney(s)

Blake, Julie Marie (West Virginia)

Dys, Jeremiah G. (West Virginia)

Lin, Elbert (District of Columbia)

Warren, Julie A. (West Virginia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

July 16, 2015 Docket
8

Complaint

Oct. 1, 2013 Complaint
56

Memorandum Opinion and Order

993 F.Supp.2d 639

Jan. 29, 2014 Order/Opinion
125

Order

June 10, 2014 Order/Opinion
139

Memorandum Opinion and Order

66 F.Supp.3d 747

Nov. 7, 2014 Order/Opinion
162

Memorandum Opinion and Order

115 F.Supp.3d 765

July 16, 2015 Order/Opinion

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/5525202/mcgee-v-cole/

Last updated May 12, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
56

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER granting in part the 45 JOINT MOTION by Vera J. McCormick, Karen S. Cole to Strike 44 Notice of Supplemental Authority; the Court will consider the two exhibits attached to Plaintiffs' notice of supplemental auth ority but will not consider legal argument presented in the memorandum accompanying those exhibits; denying in part the 26 MOTION by Vera J. McCormick to Dismiss 8 Complaint for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief and 31 MOTION by Karen S. Cole to Dismiss 8 Complaint and reserving ruling as to abstention arising from the issue of whether the existing Defendants are sufficient to bind state authorities and all county clerks, should a ruling on the merits be made in favor of Plainti ffs; directing Plaintiffs, by 2/12/2014, to either 1) seek joinder of whatever additional parties they deem necessary to create greater certainty as to the effect of a ruling in this case, or 2) file a responsive pleading explaining why the existing Defendants in this lawsuit are sufficient to bind state authorities and all county clerks should a ruling on the merits be made in favor of Plaintiffs and why joinder of additional parties is not necessary; Defendants may file a response within seven days of Plaintiffs taking either action, and Plaintiffs may file a reply within three days of any response from Defendants; granting the 34 MOTION by State of West Virginia to Dismiss 8 Complaint and dismissing Plaintiffs' claim pertaining to West Virginia Code Section 48-2-603 (the non-recognition provision); Plaintiffs' claims as to the other portions of the marriage ban may proceed; directing that Plaintiffs may amend their Complaint by 2/12/2014; directing that Defendants shal l have 14 days from entry of this Memorandum Opinion and Order to file any responses to Plaintiffs' 40 MOTION for Summary Judgment; denying as moot the 53 MOTION by State of West Virginia to Amend the Deadline to Respond to Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Judge Robert C. Chambers on 1/29/2014. (cc: attys; any unrepresented parties) (mkw)

Jan. 29, 2014 RECAP
139

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER granting Plaintiff's 40 MOTION for Summary Judgment; denying Defendant Vera J. McCormick's 26 MOTION to Dismiss, Defendant Karen S. Cole's 31 MOTION to Dismiss, Defendants' 62 JOINT MOTION f or Summary Judgment, the State of West Virginia's 66 CROSS-MOTION for Summary Judgment and the State of West Virginia's 85 MOTION to Dismiss; denying in part and denying as moot in part The State of West Virginia's 126 MOTION to Continue Merits Stay and to Calendar Oral Argument on Threshold Issues; denying as moot Plaintiff's 127 CROSS-MOTION to Lift Stay and Enter Judgment; granting Plaintiff's 131 MOTION to Lift Stay and Enter Judgment and 132 AMENDED MOTION to Lift Stay and Enter Judgment. Signed by Judge Robert C. Chambers on 11/7/2014. (cc: attys; any unrepresented parties) (mkw)

Nov. 7, 2014 RECAP
162

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER granting in part and denying in part Plaintiffs' 145 MOTION for Attorneys' Fees, Expenses, and Costs; denying as moot Plaintiffs' 152 MOTION for Extension of Time in Which to File Reply in Support o f Motion for Attorneys' Fees, Expenses, and Costs; granting The West Virginia Association of County Officials' 154 MOTION for Leave to File Brief of Amicus Curiae. Signed by Judge Robert C. Chambers on 7/16/2015. (cc: attys; any unrepresented party) (skm)

July 16, 2015 RECAP

State / Territory: West Virginia

Case Type(s):

Public Benefits/Government Services

Special Collection(s):

Same-Sex Marriage

Key Dates

Filing Date: Oct. 1, 2013

Closing Date: 2015

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Three lesbian and gay couples, one with a child, who are residents of West Virginia.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

Lambda Legal

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Cabell County Clerk (Cabell), State

Kanawha County Clerk (Kanawha), State

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Equal Protection

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Monetary Relief

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Attorneys fees

Declaratory Judgment

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Amount Defendant Pays: $99,804.64

Content of Injunction:

Discrimination Prohibition

Issues

General:

Adoption

Gay/lesbian/transgender

Marriage

Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)

Discrimination-basis:

Family discrimination

Gender identity

Sex discrimination

Sexual orientatation