Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Virginia

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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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Gina Coutlakis filed a third amended complaint against CSX Transportation, Inc., the train’s conductor, and the train’s engineer (collectively, Appellees) alleging that Appellees’ negligence resulted in the death of her husband, James Coutlakis, after he was struck by a part of the train. Appellees demurred, arguing that James’s contributory negligence was evident on the face of the complaint, and therefore, Gina’s claim was barred. Further, Appellees asserted that Gina’s reliance on the last clear chance doctrine was misplaced. The trial court sustained the demurrer. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Gina’s third amended complaint contained sufficient allegations to survive the demurrer and that a rational jury could conclude the last clear chance doctrine applies based upon the facts pled and any reasonable inferences therefrom. Remanded. View "Coutlakis v. CSX Transportation, Inc." on Justia Law

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In February 2012, Sheryl Ricketts was involved in a motor vehicle accident. Ricketts underwent surgery for her injuries. In January 2014, Ricketts filed a complaint alleging that Charlie Strange’s negligence was the direct and proximate cause of the accident. Strange moved to summary judgment, alleging that Ricketts lacked standing to pursue her claim because, in September 2012, she had filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in the bankruptcy court. Strange argued that because Ricketts failed to properly exempt her negligence claim from the bankruptcy estate, the claim was assertable only by the trustee in bankruptcy. The circuit court agreed and granted summary judgment in favor of Strange. The circuit court subsequently denied Ricketts’s motions to correct a misnomer in her complaint or substitute the bankruptcy trustee as the proper plaintiff. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) properly granted Strange’s motion for summary judgment because Ricketts did not properly exempt her negligence claim from the bankruptcy estate, and therefore, Ricketts lacked standing to pursue it; and (2) did not err by denying Ricketts’s motions for leave to amend her complaint. View "Ricketts v. Strange" on Justia Law

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Two property owners’ associations (POAs) sued various owners and developers of parcels in a shopping center, claiming that the shopping center’s sediment basins discharged sediment into a creek that flowed into a lake owned by the POAs. The POAs asserted two common-law rights of action, trespass and nuisance, and sought an award of compensatory and punitive damages along with an injunction abating the ongoing sediment incursion. The circuit court sustained pleas in bar brought by Defendants asserting the five-year statute of limitations, concluding that the incursion of sediment had been occurring for more than five years before the suit was filed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in applying the statute of limitations to the POAs’ claim of trespass damages and in denying the POAs’ motion for summary judgment. View "Forest Lakes Community Ass’n, Inc. v. United Land Corp. of America" on Justia Law

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Dr. Matthew Mayr, a surgeon, mistakenly fused the wrong level on Michael Osborne’s spine. Catherine Osborne, Michael’s wife and the administrator of his estate, filed suit, alleging that Dr. Mayr was negligent and that he committed a battery. Thereafter, Plaintiff nonsuited her negligence claim and proceeded to trial exclusively on her battery claim. The trial court entered judgment for Plaintiff. At issue on appeal was whether Plaintiff could proceed on a theory of battery or whether the law confined Plaintiff to recovery under a negligence theory. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) battery and negligence constitute distinct theories of recovery, with distinct elements of proof; and (2) the undisputed facts of this case did not support a claim for battery. View "Mayr v. Osborne" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant seeking damages arising from personal injuries she claimed to have sustained when a vehicle being operated by Defendant struck the rear bumper of the vehicle Plaintiff was operating. Defendant admitted liability, and the trial was limited to the issue of damages. The jury awarded a verdict in favor of Plaintiff but awarded her no damages. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not err in denying Plaintiff’s motions to set aside the verdict and for a new trial; and (2) the trial court did not err in excluding a racially charged statement made by Defendant at the scene of the vehicle accident. View "Gilliam v. Immel" on Justia Law

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In 2012, Ethan Dockendorf proposed to Julia McGrath and offered her an engagement ring worth approximately $26,000. In 2013, Dockendorf broke off the engagement, and the parties never married. Dockendorf subsequently filed an action in detinue seeking the return of the ring. McGrath demurred to Dockendorf’s complaint, arguing that it was barred by Va. Code 8.01-220, the “heart balm” statute. The trial court found that the ring was a conditional gift and that section 8.01-220 did not bar the action in dentine for recovery of the ring. The court then ordered McGrath to either return the ring within thirty days or it would enter judgment in the amount of $26,000 for Dockendorf. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the heart balm statute does not bar a detinue action to recover conditional gifts, such as an engagement ring, that were given in contemplation of marriage. View "McGrath v. Dockendorf" on Justia Law

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Thirteen-year-old Caleb Smith drowned on a Boy Scout camping trip. Chancy Elliott, on behalf of Caleb’s estate, brought a wrongful death suit against Trevor Carter, the peer leader of Caleb’s troop, alleging gross negligence. The trial court granted summary judgment as to Carter, concluding that, as a matter of law, a jury could not find Carter’s actions constituted gross negligence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, although Carter’s efforts to render assistance when Caleb fell in the water may have been inadequate or ineffectual, they were not so insufficient as to constitute a complete neglect for Caleb’s safety, which is required to establish gross negligence. View "Elliott v. Carter" 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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In 2007, four women moved into a Blacksburg apartment. Days later, on August 19, a service technician measured high levels of carbon monoxide at the apartment’s front door. Receiving no answer from the occupants, he entered and found them unconscious in their bedrooms. Days later, the town building official (Cook), the code official, and Mann, a mechanical engineer in heating and air conditioning design, were present for testing of the atmospheric-vented gas fired hot water heater manufactured by State. Cook later testified they were able to recreate the “back draft and carbon monoxide” conditions only when “the water heater was running, all the doors to the bedrooms were closed . . . the air conditioning was running.” Mann testified that, because of sediment, water was continuously draining out of the heater causing a continuous flow of fresh water, resulting in the gas burner continuously firing to heat the water. Testing revealed there was insufficient fresh air in the apartment for proper venting, so the heater generated carbon monoxide. In a case alleging breach of warranty and negligence, seeking more than 24 million dollars in damages, the trial court found State not liable. The Supreme Court of Virginia affirmed, upholding the use of a jury instruction concerning superseding cause and the admission of evidence on superseding causation. View "Dorman v. State Indus., Inc." on Justia Law