Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Virginia
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The Supreme Court remanded the judgment of the trial court in this civil case against Appellant based upon a finding that she had violated Va. Code 8.01-40.4 by unlawfully disseminating images of Appellee, holding that further factual findings were required on the issue of whether the voluntary-payment doctrine mooted Sheehy's appeals of the now fully satisfied judgment.Appellant filed two appeals after the trial court entered judgment. While the appeals were pending, the judgment was paid in full. Appellee filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the voluntary-payment doctrine mooted Appellant's appeal. The Supreme Court temporarily remanded the case to the trial court for factual findings on the voluntary-payment issue, holding that it was necessary for the circuit court to make findings of fact for deciding the motion to dismiss the pending appeals. View "Sheehy v. Williams" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the Workers' Compensation Commission finding that Claimant suffered a compensable injury to her right shoulder, holding that the court of appeals erred in applying the legal standard for determining whether Claimant suffered a compensable "injury by accident" to her shoulder.Claimant, a math teacher, slipped on a puddle on her classroom floor and fell on her right side. Claimant filed claims for an award of benefits by the Commission, claiming that the fall injured her right shoulder. The Commission ruled that Claimant established a compensable injury by accident to her shoulder. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals' judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that the court of appeals erred in applying the standard for determining whether Claimant had suffered an injury by accident to her shoulder. View "Alexandria City Public Schools v. Handel" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the misidentification of a defendant in a complaint was a misnomer, not a misjoinder, and therefore, the filing of a new complaint to correct the error after a nonsuit was not barred by the statute of limitations.Calvin Hampton, who was injured in a car accident, filed a negligence complaint seeking damages. The complaint identified the driver of the other vehicle as Michael Meyer. Later, however, Hampton learned that Noah Meyer, and not his father Michael, had been driving the vehicle at the time of the collision. Hampton subsequently obtained an order nonsuiting his complaint. Hampton then filed a new complaint asserting that, under this Court's decision in Richmond v. Volk, 291 Va. 60 (2016), the use of the wrong name in his complaint was merely a misnomer rather than a misjoinder. Noah filed a plea in bar asserting that the new complaint was time-barred. The circuit court sustained the plea in bar, ruling that naming Michael in the original complaint was a misjoinder, not a misnomer. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the misidentification of the driver in the original complaint were merely a misnomer, not a misjoinder; and (2) therefore, under Volk, the new complaint was not barred by the statute of limitations. View "Hampton v. Meyer" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing a suit for wrongful death against Virginia medical providers on the basis that Plaintiff had received a personal injury settlement against Kentucky medical providers concerning the same injury, holding that the circuit court erred in granting the motions to dismiss.Plaintiff, the husband of the decedent, filed wrongful death and personal injury actions in a Virginia circuit court and a Kentucky circuit court, asserting that the decedent died as a result of medical professions in both states failing to identify and treat the decedent's mesenteric ischemia. Plaintiff settled with the Kentucky defendants for an undisclosed amount, and the Kentucky circuit court dismissed all claims in the Kentucky action. The circuit court subsequently granted the Virginia defendants' motions to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the circuit court erred in dismissing the case on the grounds that Plaintiff elected a remedy when he settled the Kentucky personal injury action and that Plaintiff's wrongful death action was barred by Va. Code 8.01-56; and (2) none of the doctrines of claim-splitting, double recovery, or judicial estoppel supported the circuit court's granting of the motions to dismiss. View "Green v. Diagnostic Imaging Associates" on Justia Law

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In this action in which Plaintiff alleged intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation against the Commonwealth's attorney, the Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's ruling that the conduct alleged was insufficient to state a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress but reversed the circuit court's ruling that Defendant was absolutely immune from Plaintiff's defamation claim.After she was fired, Plaintiff, a former administrative assistant in the Commonwealth's attorney's office, filed this complaint against Chadwick Seth Baker, the Commonwealth's attorney for Dickenson County, alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation. Baker filed a demurrer and motion to dismiss. The circuit court sustained Baker's demurrer, ruling that termination of at-will employment did not give rise to a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress and that Baker enjoyed absolute immunity regarding the defamation claim. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) absolute immunity does not apply to a Commonwealth's attorney's allegedly defamatory statements about why he made the decision to fire an employee; and (2) Plaintiff did not adequately plead a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. View "Viers v. Baker" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court granting Defendants' demurrers to Plaintiff's claims alleging that various professionals who participated in custody and visitation proceedings tortiously interfered with her parental rights, holding that the tort of interference with parental rights did not extend to the facts alleged by Plaintiff.Plaintiff, the mother of three children, challenged the proceedings resulting an order awarding sole legal and physical custody of the children to their father. In her complaint, Plaintiff alleged tortious interference with parental rights and defamation. Plaintiff alleged that professionals such as the children's guardian ad litem, counselors, and therapists conspired, lied, and acted maliciously to deprive her of the rightful custody of her children. Plaintiff further alleged that one of the therapists defamed her. The circuit court granted the defendants' demurrers to the claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the allegations made in the complaint did not give rise to a cause of action for tortious interference with parental rights; and (2) the circuit court properly dismissed the defamation claims against the therapist. View "Padula-Wilson v. Landry" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the workers' compensation commission's award based on Va. Code 65.2-503 for Michael Richardson's loss of use before hip replacement surgery, holding that the court of appeals did not err in holding that, pursuant to the statute, loss of use is calculated before any surgery that improves functionality by use of a prosthetic device.Richardson sustained a work-related hip injury that would have deprived him of seventy-four percent of the normal use of his left leg if it remained untreated. Richardson's employer, however, paid for a total hip replacement that left Richardson with an eleven percent permanent loss of the use of his leg. Richardson filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits based on a seventy-four percent loss of use of his left leg. The Commission awarded Richardson permanent partial disability benefits reflecting a seventy-four percent loss-of-use rating. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that loss of use under section 65.2-503 is calculated before any surgery that improves functionality by use of a prosthetic device. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of appeals' interpretation of the statute was reasonable. View "Loudoun County v. Richardson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court declaring that the School the City of Richmond's School Board's UM/UIM motorist coverage was $1 million, as provided in the contract between the School Board and the Virginia Association of Counties Group Self-Insurance Risk Pool (VACORP), holding that the $1 million in UM/UIM coverage the School Board contracted for was the amount of available UM/UIM coverage.Maisia Young was injured while riding a school bus. Young filed suit against the School Board seeking damages for her personal injuries. The School Board was self-insured through a self-insurance risk pool managed by VACORP. Young filed a declaratory judgment action to determine the extent of the coverage available to the School Board under the UM/UIM provisions of its contract. VACORP argued that $50,000 was the maximum amount of coverage available, as set by statute. In response, Young argued that the statutes set a minimum, not a cap, and that the maximum available was what was specified in the contract. The circuit court agreed with Young. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the School Board's UM/UIM coverage was $1 million, as provided in the contract between the School Board and VACORP. View "VACORP v. Young" on Justia Law

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In this wrongful death case, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court striking the evidence supporting a claim for punitive damages against Defendant, a physician who repeatedly prescribed narcotic pain medication to a patient, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, the circuit court erred by granting Defendant's motion to strike.The patient in this case died from an accidental overdose of oxycodone, alcohol, and prescription medications. Plaintiff, the administrator of the decedent's estate, filed a wrongful death action against Defendant. In addition to damages permitted in wrongful death actions the administrator requested an award of punitive damages. Defendant conceded that he breached the applicable standard of care with respect to his care and treatment of the decedent but moved to strike the punitive damages claim. The circuit court granted the motion to strike. At issue was whether a jury could have concluded that Defendant's actions constituted a "willful and wanton" disregard for the decedent's health and safety. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, under the specific circumstances of this case, the administrator's punitive damages claim should have been submitted to the jury. View "Curtis v. Highfill" on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice appeal, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court granting Defendants' motion to strike the evidence on the ground that it was insufficient to prove causation, holding that Plaintiff's evidence was sufficient to establish a prima facie case and survive a motion to strike at the conclusion of Plaintiff's case-in-chief.Plaintiff, as the personal representative and the administrator of his deceased wife's estate, filed a complaint alleging that Defendants had been professionally negligent, which had caused his wife's wrongful death. At the conclusion of Plaintiff's case-in-chief, Defendants moved to strike the evidence. The circuit court granted the motion and entered a final order awarding judgment to Defendants. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff's evidence was sufficient to defeat Defendants' motion to strike and that the circuit court erred by failing to view all of Plaintiff's evidence in the light most favorable to him. View "Tahboub v. Thiagarajah" on Justia Law