Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Virginia
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court granting Defendant's plea in bar to Plaintiff's negligence claim on the ground that he was protected by derivative sovereign immunity and granting Defendant's demurrer to Plaintiff's gross negligence claim because it was insufficiently pleaded, holding that there was no legal error in either of these decisions.Langston Patterson was an inmate in the Danville Adult Detention Center (DADC) when he suffered cardiac arrest and later died. The personal representative of his estate sued Defendant, the DADC physician, claiming that Defendant committed medical malpractice by failing to provide the necessary and appropriate care to Patterson. The circuit court granted Defendant's plea in bar to Plaintiff's negligence claim and Defendant's demurrer to Plaintiff's gross negligence claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no error of law or any irrationality in the fact-finding of the circuit court; and (2) Defendant's claim for gross negligence failed as a matter of law. View "Patterson v. City of Danville" on Justia Law

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In this personal injury case, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court sustaining Defendant's plea in bar and dismissing this case with prejudice, holding that the date of Plaintiff's second filing did not relate back to the date of her first filing and was therefore barred by the statute of limitations.After Plaintiff learned that she had erred in naming Defendant in her initial pleading Plaintiff non-suited the case. One month later, Plaintiff filed the present action, correctly naming Defendant. Defendant filed a plea in bar, arguing that the present action was filed over two years after the cause of action accrued and was thus time-barred. Plaintiff objected, arguing that the error in naming Defendant was a misnomer subject to correction. The court sustained the plea in bar, concluding that Plaintiff's original filing did not relate back to the date of the original filing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff's second filing was barred by the statute of limitations. View "Edwards v. Omni International Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court ruling that an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) was covered under a homeowner's insurance policy as a "farm type vehicle," holding that the circuit court erred.Diamond Jones was injured while riding as a passenger on the back of an ATV driven by the daughter of Jennifer and Richard Rekowski. Jones filed a negligence action against the Rekowskis, who were insured by a homeowner's policy issued by Erie Insurance Exchange, and then filed this action seeking a judgment that Erie was obligated to pay the insurance claim. The circuit court concluded that the policy covered the accident. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the ATV involved in the accident was not a "farm type" vehicle; and (2) therefore, the ATV was excluded from coverage by the homeowner's insurance policy. View "Erie Insurance Exchange v. Jones" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court determining what portion of a settlement was subject to the Commonwealth's Medicaid lien, holding that there was no error.Appellant was seriously injured in a car accident. Because the Commonwealth's Medicaid program paid for a portion of Appellant's medical care the Commonwealth was entitled to a lien on the proceeds of an ensuing settlement between Appellant and the driver who caused the accident. At issue was what portion of the settlement was subject to the Medicaid lien. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court's judgment was proper under the deferential standard. View "Farah v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the circuit court ruling that Marion Life Saving Crew, Inc. (MLSC) and its paramedics were entitled to statutory immunity pursuant to Va. Code 8.01-255(A)(5), holding that the circuit court erred in ruling that MLSC was immune from liability.Plaintiff, the administrator of the Estate of Calvin Harmon Shoots, brought this wrongful death complaint alleging that Defendants' grossly negligent conduct was the direct and proximate cause of the premature death of Shoots. The circuit court ruled (1) the paramedics were clearly negligent but that they were absolutely immune from liability under section 8.01-225(A)(5); and (2) MLSC was immune because the paramedics were immune from liability. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the circuit court correctly ruled that the paramedics were immune from liability; but (2) the paramedics' immunity from civil liability was not dispositive of whether section 8.01-225 applied to MLSC, and therefore, the circuit court erred in ruling that MLSC was immune because the paramedics were also immune. View "Stoots v. Marion Life Saving Crew, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Petitioners' amended complaint against iTech AG, LLC and Robbins Law Group, PLLC (collectively, Appellees) alleging malicious abuse of process, slander of title, tortious interference with contractual relations, and civil conspiracy arising out of the filing of a lis pendens, holding that the circuit court erred in sustaining Appellees' demurrers.In their demurrers to Petitioners' complaint, Appellees argued that the filing of a lis pendens is entitle to absolute privilege and that the complaint dd not plead valid claims for slander of title, tortious interference with contractual relations, or civil conspiracy. The circuit court sustained the demurrers on the basis that the information contained in a memorandum of lis pendens is subject to absolute privilege. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the information contained in the lis pendens was not sufficiently "relevant and pertinent to the matter under inquiry" for absolute privilege to apply in this case. View "Givago Growth, LLC v. iTech AG, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the portion of the judgment of the court of appeals applying the law of the case doctrine to this appeal of an award of workers' compensation benefits but affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals upholding the Workers Compensation Commission's award of benefits to Plaintiff, holding that the evidence supported the award.Plaintiff's claim was initially denied on the basis that, although Plaintiff had clearly suffered an injury, he failed to establish an identifiable incident or sudden precipitating event that caused the injury. The Commission reversed the Deputy Commissioner's ruling and entered an award of benefits. The court of appeals ultimately affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the court of appeals erred in its application of the law of the case doctrine; and (2) the evidence supported the Commission's award of benefits to Plaintiff. View "City of Charlottesville v. Sclafani" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's dismissal of Plaintiffs' malicious prosecution claim and affirmed the circuit court's dismissal of Plaintiffs' abuse of process claim, holding that the claim for abuse of process failed as a matter of law.Mathews County initiated criminal proceedings against Plaintiffs alleging that Plaintiffs added an expansion of their residence and that the expansion encroached on neighboring property. The warrants were later dismissed or nolle prossed. Plaintiffs then filed a complaint against the County Administrator and two County employees alleging malicious prosecution and abuse of process.The circuit court granted the County employees' demurrer and dismissed the case with prejudice. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the "thing decided" doctrine does not apply to a claim of malicious prosecution or abuse of process; (2) Plaintiffs' allegations of malicious prosecution were sufficient to withstand demurrer; and (3) Plaintiffs' claim of abuse of process failed as a matter of law because Plaintiffs did not allege that any particular process was abused. View "Eubank v. Thomas" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court granting a plea in bar and dismissing a complaint alleging that an employer operating a residential program for at-risk youth had negligently failed to protect an employee who had been murdered by one of the residents, holding that the court correctly held that the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act provided the exclusive remedy for the employee's death.Plaintiff, the estate of the murdered employee, filed a negligence claim against Defendant, the employer, claiming that the employer had negligently created an unsafe work environment for the employee. Defendant responded by filing a plea in bar, arguing that the exclusivity provision of the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act, Va. Code 65.2-307(A) precluded the negligence and wrongful death claims. The court granted the plea in bar and dismissed the action with prejudice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court correctly held that the employee's murder had arisen out of the conditions of her employment and that the exclusivity provision of the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act applied. View "Lopez v. Intercept Youth Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court sustaining Virginia Electric and Power Company's (VEPCO) plea in bar regarding conflict preemption and dismissing Plaintiffs' complaints alleging common law personal injury, holding that conflict preemption barred Plaintiffs' claims.After VEPCO installed smart meters on Plaintiffs' home Plaintiffs fell ill with symptoms of unknown origin or cause. Plaintiffs sued VEPCO for common law injuries. The circuit court granted VEPCO's plea in bar and dismissed the complaints, finding that the claims were barred by conflict preemption. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in dismissing Plaintiffs' claims as preempted by federal law. View "Kinsey v. Virginia Electric & Power Co." on Justia Law