Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Virginia

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court dismissing Plaintiff’s action seeking to recover attorney fees she incurred in defending a prior action. The trial court concluded that Rule 3:25 precluded Plaintiff from requesting attorney fees because she failed to request such fees in the underlying litigation. The Supreme Court agreed, holding (1) Rule 3:25(B) required Plaintiff to make a demand for attorney fees in the underlying litigation; and (2) because Plaintiff did not make such a demand, under the express language of Rule 3:25(C), Plaintiff waived any claim for such fees. View "Graham v. Community Management Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs bought this lawsuit against the Fairfax County School Board seeking declaratory judgment and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief for the allegedly unlawful expansion of the school board’s non-discrimination and student code of conduct policies. Plaintiffs included Jack Doe, a student at a public high school, who brought suit by and through his parents as next friends, and Andrea Lafferty, a citizen, taxpayer, and resident of Fairfax County. Jack Doe’s parents were citizens, taxpayers, and residents of Fairfax County. The Board filed a motion to dismiss and demurrer, arguing that Plaintiffs lacked standing. The circuit court dismissed without leave to amend, concluding (1) Andrea Lafferty and the Does individually lacked taxpayer standing, and (2) Jack Doe lacked standing because his disappointment with or anxiety or confusion over the school board’s action did not constitute a case or controversy or an adjudication of a right. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the parties failed to allege an actual controversy sufficient to bring a declaratory judgment, and therefore, they likewise may not recover the injunctive relief requested therein. View "Lafferty v. School Board of Fairfax County" on Justia Law

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Boasso American Corporation appealed an adverse decision by the Zoning Administrator for the City of Chesapeake to the Board of Zoning Appeals. The Board affirmed. Boasso then filed a petition for writ of certiorari. The Zoning Administrator moved to dismiss on the ground that Boasso had failed to name or serve the City Council for the City of Chesapeake, a necessary party by statute. Boasso then sought leave to amend to include the City Council and the City Attorney. The Acting City Clerk, on behalf of the Mayor, moved to quash service of process and filed a plea in bar arguing that Boasso’s failure to name or serve the City Council within thirty days of the Board’s decision was fatal to the petition. The circuit court dismissed Boasso’s petition with prejudice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a litigant who appeals the judgment of a board of zoning appeals under Va. Code 15.2-2314 must identify the governing body as a necessary party in the petition and must do so within thirty days of the board’s final decision; and (2) if those requirements are not met, the circuit court lacks the discretion to permit amendment of the petition and, if asked, must dismiss the case for lack of a necessary party. View "Boasso America Corp. v. Zoning Administrator of the City of Chesapeake" 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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Plaintiffs brought an action against the Virginia State Board of Elections, the Department of Elections, and various officers in their official capacities, alleging that eleven districts were unconstitutional and seeking to enjoin the use of the current district map in future elections. Subpoenas duces tecum were served upon several members of the General Assembly (the Virginia Senators) and the Division of Legislative Services (DLS) demanding production of certain documents and communications. Claiming legislative privilege, the Virginia Senators and DLS (collectively, Appellants) filed motions to quash. The circuit court denied the motion to quash, holding that the legislative privilege does not extend to DLS or to documents and communications between members of the General Assembly and consultants, DLS, or other third parties. When Appellants refused to comply with the production order, the court held Appellants in civil contempt. The Supreme Court vacated the portion of the order holding Appellants in contempt, holding that the circuit court abused its discretion by holding Appellants in contempt because the material sought in the subpoenas duces tecum were protected by the legislative privilege. View "Edwards v. Vesilind" on Justia Law

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In 2014, the trustee under a deed of trust conveyed the Parrish property to the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), which sent the Parrishes a notice to vacate and filed a summons for unlawful detainer in the general district court. The Parrishes alleged that the foreclosure was invalid because their deed of trust incorporated 12 C.F.R. 1024.41(g), which, they asserted, prohibits foreclosure if a borrower submitted a completed loss mitigation application more than 37 days before the foreclosure sale. They alleged that they had submitted such an application. The court awarded Fannie Mae possession. On appeal, Fannie Mae argued that the court should exclude any defense contesting the foreclosure’s validity because the lower court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to try title in a proceeding on unlawful detainer. Fannie Mae contended that because the circuit court’s subject matter jurisdiction on appeal from the general district court was derivative of the general district court’s jurisdiction, the circuit court also lacked jurisdiction. The court awarded Fannie Mae possession. The Supreme Court of Virginia vacated, restoring the parties to their status quo before the unlawful detainer proceeding. Courts not of record lack power to try title unless expressly conferred by the General Assembly. The court cited Code sections 16.1-77(3) and 8.01-126 and acknowledged the practical implications of its holding. View "Parrish v. Fed. Nat'l Mortgage Ass'n" on Justia Law

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Andrews, a senior property manager of a public housing complex, challenged the termination of her employment with the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) through RRHA’s grievance procedure. A hearing officer ordered her reinstatement snf advised that, under the terms of RRHA’s Grievance Policy, “[e]ither party may . . . appeal the decision to the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond, Virginia.” The circuit court reversed that decision as “‘contradictory to law’” under Code 2.2-3006. The Supreme Court of Virginia reinstated the hearing officer’s decision, holding that the circuit court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear RRHA’s appeal. Either party may appeal a hearing officer’s decision to a circuit court for review on grounds that it is “contradictory to law,” Code 2.2-3006(B), but no such right is available when the challenge to the decision presents a question whether it is“consistent with policy,” RRHA did not make a prima facie showing for invoking judicial review of the hearing officer’s decision under Code 2.2-3006(B) because the substance of RRHA’s appeal challenged only the hearing officer’s interpretation and application of RRHA’s policies. View "Andrews v. Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Auth." on Justia Law

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Powell owned property in Chesapeake, Virginia. In 2004, a developer, 3 MAC, bought her property for $265,000 and “one (1) lot to be mutually agreed upon by both Buyer and Seller in writing” to develop North Rollingwood Estates subdivision. In 2005, Powell and 3 MAC prepared an addendum, stipulating that Powell would receive the lot designated as Lot 1 on the preliminary subdivision plat. Several times over the next few years, Powell allegedly asked 3 MAC to convey Lot 1, but in 2012, 3 MAC sold the lot to Ashdon for $110,000. Powell sued, alleging breach of contract and fraudulent conveyance, and sought the imposition of a constructive trust upon Lot 1. After a settlement, the trial court dismissed Powell’s claim against Ashdon with prejudice, releasing Powell’s claim to Lot 1. Powell asked the court to impose a constructive trust upon the remaining land owned by 3 MAC that had not yet been sold, “Lot A,” which was subject to the Bank’s recorded first-lien deed of trust. The court held that the Bank had constructive knowledge of Powell’s rights and imposed the constructive trust. The Supreme Court of Virginia reversed and entered judgment for Powell in the amount of $110,000. Powell failed to distinctly trace her claim to the property that was the subject of the constructive trust. View "Bank of Hampton Roads v. Powell" on Justia Law

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In 2014, Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant seeking damages for sexual assault and battery, aggravated sexual assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant, an adult, had a sexual relationship with Plaintiff from 1971 through 1975 while Plaintiff was a minor. Plaintiff reached the age of majority in 1975. Defendant filed a plea in bar asserting that the suit was barred by the pertinent statute of limitations. The circuit court sustained the plea in bar and dismissed Plaintiff’s suit with prejudice, holding that Va. Code 8.01-249(6), which revives an expired statute of limitations in certain cases of childhood sexual abuse, was inapplicable in this case. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 8.01-249(6) was inapplicable in this case. View "Haynes v. Haggerty" on Justia Law

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In 2010, JSR Mechanical (JSR) filed a complaint against Aireco Supply alleging breach of contract and negligence. Aireco filed an answer, but there were no further pleadings filed for the next four years. In 2014, under the authority of Va. Code 8.01-335(B), the circuit court entered a final order stating that the case was discontinued and stricken from the docket. In 2015, JSR filed a motion to reinstate the case. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that just cause and sufficient grounds did not exist for granting Plaintiff’s motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, once a plaintiff has complied with the timeliness and notice requirements of Va. Code 8.01-335(B), the circuit court does not have discretion to deny a procedural motion to reinstate a case that has been discontinued or dismissed pursuant to the statute based on lack of “good cause” or “just cause.” Remanded. View "JSR Mechanical, Inc. v. Aireco Supply, Inc." on Justia Law