Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Virginia

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded the judgment of the circuit court dismissing La Bella Dona Skin Care, Inc.’s (LBD) civil conspiracy claims, granting summary judgment on LBD’s claim for fraudulent conveyance, and applying a clear and convincing standard of proof to LBD’s mere continuation theory of successor liability. LBD filed this complaint against eleven defendants seeking damages and injunctive relief as a result of Defendants’ involvement in a series of allegedly fraudulent conveyances designed to avoid an outstanding judgment in favor of LBD. The court held that the circuit court (1) did not err when it dismissed LBD’s civil conspiracy claims on demurrer where a fraudulent conveyance under Va. Code 55-80 cannot serve as the predicate unlawful act needed to support a claim for statutory or common law conspiracy; (2) erred in dismissing LBD’s fraudulent conveyance claim on summary judgment where a prima facie case of fraudulent conveyance may be established when the recipient is a third party creditor with a higher security interest; and (3) erred by applying a clear and convincing standard of proof to LBD’s mere continuation theory of successor liability. View "La Bella Dona Skin Care, Inc. v. Belle Femme Enterprises" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court in denying Seller specific performance of a contract for the sale of real property after finding that Seller failed to establish that he held marketable title. The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion by denying Seller’s motion in limine and admitting a substitute trustee’s deed, which rebutted Seller’s evidence that any dispute over ownership of the property had been resolved; (2) the circuit court did not err by granting Buyer’s motion to strike the evidence; and (3) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion by awarding Buyer attorney’s fees. View "Denton v. Browntown Valley Associates" on Justia Law

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For nearly a decade, Petitioner, as a pro se litigant, has filed numerous pleadings in the Supreme Court, all of which have been meritless. In 2017, the Supreme Court issued a rule to show cause against Petitioner, directing her to show cause why she should not be prohibited from filing any future pro se petition for appeal, or other pleading in the court, without first obtaining leave of court. In the underlying case, Petitioner field a complaint against Defendant alleging breach of contract and gross negligence. The trial court dismissed the case with prejudice. Petitioner unsuccessfully petitioned the Supreme Court for an appeal. The Supreme Court denied Adkins’ petition for rehearing and instructed the clerk to comply with this order as it pertains to future filings, finding it necessary to impose a pre-filing injunction against Petitioner in this court. View "Adkins v. CP/IPERS Arlington Hotel LLC" on Justia Law

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Marshall Auto & Truck Center, Inc. executed a promissory note in favor of Middleburg Bank. Charles Chamberlain executed a guaranty of that Note. Marshall failed to make payments to Middleburg, and the Bank withdrew funds from Chamberlain’s account to satisfy Marshall’s obligations under the Note. Chamberlain filed a complaint against Marshall claiming that, pursuant to Va. Code 49-27, he was entitled to judgment against Marshall upon Marshall’s default and seizure of collateral by the Bank. Marshall argued that Code 49-27 did not apply because Chamberlain executed the Guaranty as a gift. The circuit court ruled that Chamberlain recover nothing from Marshall. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because there was no evidence in the record that Chamberlain made a gift or waived his statutory rights under section 49-27, he was entitled to judgment. Remanded. View "Chamberlain v. Marshall Auto & Truck Center, Inc." on Justia Law

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Client entered into a written representation agreement with Attorney for legal services. An attorney-in-fact for Client later filed a confession of judgment against Client in the amount of $9,460.07, with interest at eighteen percent from a certain date. Attorney subsequently filed a garnishment suggestion against Client in an effort to enforce the judgment. Client moved the court to enter an order declaring the confessed judgment void nunc pro tunc because of failure to serve it on her as required by Va. Code 8.01-438. Attorney moved to suffer a voluntary nonsuit. The court (1) granted the nonsuit, (2) quashed the confessed judgment nunc pro tunc, (3) ordered payment to Client of all sums held by the clerk by reason of the garnishment, and (4) awarded sanctions to be paid by Attorney to Client as reasonable expenses she incurred by reason of the garnishment proceedings. Attorney appealed the order granting sanctions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Attorney breached his duty imposed upon him by section 8.01-438, and that breach resulted in harm to Client, justifying sanctions. View "Westlake Legal Group v. Flynn" on Justia Law

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The Funny Guy, LLC sued Lecego, LLC, claiming that it was not paid for work it did for Lecego. Funny Guy alleged that Lecego had agreed to pay approximately ninety-seven percent of the fees claimed in an attempt to resolve the dispute but later refused to do so. The trial court sustained Lecego’s demurrer, finding that no such settlement ever existed. Thereafter, Funny Guy again sued Lecego asserting two alternative theories of recovery - breach of contract and quantum meruit. The trial court dismissed this second suit on the basis of res judicata, concluding that these two alternative theories of recovery could have been, and should have been, asserted in the first suit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court properly applied res judicata in this case. View "The Funny Guy, LLC v. Lecego, LLC" on Justia Law

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Shannon Walters sustained serious injuries when her 1995 Mazda Miata convertible overturned while she was driving it with the soft top closed. Walters filed negligence and breach of implied warranty of merchantability claims against Mazda Motor Corporation and Mazda Motor of American, Inc. (collectively, Mazda), arguing that the soft top’s latching system was defective and that she was injured after the windshield headed disconnected from the top and collapsed into the occupant compartment. The jury rendered a verdict in favor of Walters. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Mazda had no legally recognized duty to design or supply a soft top that provided occupant protection in a rollover crash; and (2) the opinion offered by Walters’ expert that the Mada Miata latching system was defectively designed lacked an adequate foundation, and therefore, the circuit court abused its discretion in admitting it. Final judgment entered for Mazda. View "Holiday Motor Corp. v. Walters" on Justia Law

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This case involved a royalty dispute over the use of nuclear technology. Areva NP, Inc. filed a complaint against Babcock & Wilcox Company (B&W) and affiliated companies (collectively, the B&W defendants), alleging breach of contract and violation of the Virginia Uniform Trade Secrets Act. The jury rendered a verdict in favor of Areva on both claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court erred by failing to set aside the verdict and by entering judgment for the B&W defendants on Areva’s royalty and trade secrets claims. Final judgment entered dismissing Areva’s claims. View "Babcock & Wilcox Co. v. Areva NP, Inc." on Justia Law

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A pretrial detainee asserted claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against guards and nurses at a regional jail. The jail authority had purchased a general liability insurance policy (the VaCorp Policy) from the Virginia Association of Counties Group Self Insurance Risk Pool (Risk Pool Association) and also elected to participate in a government-sponsored insurance program (the VaRISK Plan) managed by the Division of Risk Management (DRM). While the federal suit was pending, the detainee filed a declaratory judgment action against DRM and the Risk Pool Association seeking a determination of their respective liabilities for insuring the jail defendants. The Risk Pool Association and the DRM filed opposing third-party claims for declaratory relief. The detainee later settled with the jail defendants. The circuit court concluded (1) the VaRISK Plan was the sole primary coverage and that the DRM had the exclusive duty to defend the jail defendants, and (2) the Risk Pool Association had no duty to contribute toward the defense costs incurred by the jail defendants in the federal suit. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the VaCorp Policy and VaRISK Plan provided co-primary liability coverage to the jail defendants; and (2) VaRISK Plan’s $2 million coverage extension applicable to medical malpractice claims did not apply to the section 1983 civil rights claim alleging violations of federal constitutional law. Remanded. View "Commonwealth, Div. of Risk Mgmt. v. Va. Ass'n of Counties Group Self Ins. Risk Pool" on Justia Law

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In 2003, Dumville met with attorney Thorsen to prepare her will. Thorsen understood that Dumville wanted a will that would, upon her death, convey all of her property to her mother if her mother survived her, and, if her mother predeceased her, to the Richmond Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). Dumville was 43 and lived with three cats, which she desired to go to the RSPCA upon her death. Thorsen prepared, and Dumville executed, the will. She died in 2008, her mother having predeceased her. Thorsen, as co-executor of the estate, notified the RSPCA that it was the sole beneficiary of Dumville’s estate. Thorsen was informed that, in the opinion of the title insurance company, the will left only the tangible estate, not real estate, to the RSPCA. Thorsen brought suit in a collateral proceeding to correct this “scrivener’s error” based on Dumville’s clear original intent. The court found the language unambiguously limited the RSPCA bequest to tangible personal property, while the intangible estate passed intestate to Dumville’s heirs at law. The RSPCA received $72,015.60, but the bequest, less expenses, would have totaled $675,425.50 absent the error. RSPCA sued Thorsen for negligence, as a third-party beneficiary of his contract with Dumville. The court found for the RSPCA. The Supreme Court of Virginia affirmed: RSPCA was a clearly and definitely identified third-party beneficiary. View "Thorsen v. Richmond Soc'y for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals" on Justia Law