Justia Virginia Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Bankruptcy
Eilber v. Floor Care Specialists, Inc.
A court may raise judicial estoppel on its own motion in an appropriate case, and therefore, the doctrine is not waived if not pled by the parties.After Plaintiff initiated Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings, he filed a defamation claim against Defendants. Plaintiff subsequently completed the payments required by the Chapter 13 plan, and the bankruptcy court ordered the discharge of his remaining unsecured debts. Defendants moved for summary judgment and then filed a reply brief to Plaintiff’s brief in opposition to the motion, arguing that Plaintiff was judicially estopped from prosecuting his defamation claim because he failed to timely disclose it to the bankruptcy court. The circuit court granted the motion, concluding that the doctrine of judicial estoppel prohibited Plaintiff from prosecuting his defamation claim after taking the position in the bankruptcy court that it did not exist. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the doctrine of judicial estoppel was not waived by Defendants for their failure to raise it in their pleadings; and (2) Plaintiff identified no reversible error in the circuit court’s application of judicial estoppel. View "Eilber v. Floor Care Specialists, Inc." on Justia Law
Ricketts v. Strange
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
First Am. Title Ins. Co. v. W. Surety Co.
First American Title Insurance Company (FATIC) provided title insurance for a mortgage refinancing to SunTrust Mortgage through FATIC's title agent, First Alliance. First Alliance subsequently obtained a $100,000 surety bond pursuant to the Virginia Consumer Real Estate Settlement Protection Act (CRESPA) from Western Surety (Western). After the property owner defaulted under the original mortgages, SunTrust lost $734,296. FATIC paid the full amount of this loss then made a formal demand upon Western for $100,000. Western refused to pay FATIC the amount of the surety bond. FATIC sued Western and First Alliance for breach of contract. The district court entered judgment in FATIC's favor for $100,000. The Supreme Court held (1) CRESPA does not recognize a private cause of action that may be asserted against a surety and the surety bond issued pursuant to former Va. Code Ann. 6.1-2.21(D)(3); (2) Virginia law nonetheless permits a cause of action against a surety and the surety bond executed pursuant to CRESPA by the assertion of a common law claim; and (3) a title insurance company may have standing, not in its own right, but as a subrogee of its insured, to maintain a cause of action against a surety and the surety bond. View "First Am. Title Ins. Co. v. W. Surety Co." on Justia Law
Rutter v. Oakwood Living Centers
Barabara Rutter filed a wrongful death action in June 2000 against Oakwood, a living center, Prism Rehab, a company providing physical therapy services, and the president and employee of Prism Rehab. Dixon and Prism Rehab filed a notice of bankruptcy stay, and in October 2000 the circuit court entered a bankruptcy stay order. At issue was whether the order dismissed the action or only removed the action from the circuit court's docket. Oakwood argued the order served to discontinue Rutter's action in October 2003 pursuant to Va. Code Ann. 8.01-335(B) because, as of that date, the action had been inactive for three years. The circuit court entered an order in 2009 stating that because Rutter had not re-filed her action before 2003, the case was dismissed. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the statute does not allow the prospective discontinuance of an action and that the 2000 order merely removed Rutter's action from the docket. However, because the 2009 order only adjudicated Rutter's claim against Oakwood, that order was not final for purposes of the appeal. The Court held it had no jurisdiction over the appeal, and dismissed the case without prejudice. View "Rutter v. Oakwood Living Centers" on Justia Law
Kocher v. Campbell
In 2004, Campbell was involved in a motor vehicle collision with Kocher. In 2005, Campbell filed for bankruptcy and received a notice of discharge a year later. In 2006, Campbell filed two personal injury actions against Kocher and took nonsuits on both of them. In 2008, Campbell filed his third complaint on the same cause of action. Earlier in 2008 the bankruptcy court reopened Campbell's bankruptcy case, and in the proceeding Campbell listed the personal injury claim as an asset and claimed it as exempt property. In 2009 the court held the cause of action to be exempt. During trial for the personal injury action, Kocher filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting lack of standing and the statute of limitations. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed and dismissed, holding that (1) Campbell's cause of action became a part of the bankruptcy estate in 2005 and remained an asset of the estate until it was exempted in 2009, and therefore all three complaints were filed when Campbell lacked standing; and (2) because the complaints were legal nullities, they had no tolling effect on the two-year statute of limitation. View "Kocher v. Campbell" on Justia Law