Justia Virginia Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Civil Procedure
Sheehy v. Williams
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
Hampton v. Meyer
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
Lane v. Bayview Loan Servicing
In this complaint alleging breach of a deed of trust the Supreme Court reversed and vacated the judgments of the circuit court granting Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC's plea in bar of res judicata and dismissing Gloria Lane's amended complaint as to all defendants, holding that Lane's amended complaint was not barred by either claim preclusion or issue preclusion.On appeal, Lane argued that the circuit court erred in sustaining Bayview's plea in bar because Bayview failed to prove the prerequisites for the application of res judicata. The Supreme Court agreed, holding (1) an attorney does not share the same legal interest as his or her client merely by virtue of his or her representation of that client; (2) a prior judgment and rulings obtained in an earlier injunction action had no preclusive effect upon any claims or issues asserted in Lane's amended complaint; and (3) therefore, the decisions of the circuit court granting Bayview's plea in bar of res judicata were in error. View "Lane v. Bayview Loan Servicing" on Justia Law
Ferguson Enterprises, Inc. v. F.H. Furr Plumbing
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court denying Appellant's motion to set aside a jury verdict in favor of Appellee, holding that the circuit court erred in finding that Appellant waived its statute of limitations argument when it did not refile a plea in bar after Appellee filed a second amended complaint.In moving to set aside the verdict Appellant argued that the circuit court erred when it denied Appellant's proposed jury instructions relating to the statute of limitations defense. The circuit court denied Appellant's motion, admitting that it erred in ruling that it had previously decided Appellant's plea in bar of the statute of limitations but then concluding that Appellant waived its statute of limitations argument when it did not refile a plea in bar after Appellee filed a second amended complaint. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that the circuit court erred in not permitting Appellant to present its statute of limitations defense to the jury. View "Ferguson Enterprises, Inc. v. F.H. Furr Plumbing" on Justia Law
RMBS Recovery Holdings I, LLC v. HSBC Bank USA, N.A.
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the circuit court in this action, holding that the circuit court properly denied a motion to dismiss based on the doctrine of forum non conveniens but erred in dismissing the case based on forum selection clauses.RMBS Recovery Holdings I, LLC and others (collectively, Funds) filed suit against HSBC Bank USA, National Association (HSBC) asserting that HSBC served as an indenture trustee of three trusts in which the Funds had invested and that the trusts were filled with defective mortgage loans. Based on HSBC's failure to act to have sponsors of the trusts repurchase the deficient loans or to file suit against the sponsors, the Funds claimed breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and other causes of action. The circuit court denied HSBC's motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens but granted HSBC's motion to dismiss based upon forum selection clauses in confidentiality and indemnification agreements between the parties. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that HSBC's delay in asserting the forum selection clauses, while actively continuing litigation, resulted in a waiver of the right to rely upon that contractual provision. View "RMBS Recovery Holdings I, LLC v. HSBC Bank USA, N.A." on Justia Law
Mercer v. MacKinnon
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court granting Defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, holding that the facts did not establish personal jurisdiction under the basis presented to the court, the “persistent course of conduct” clause of Virginia’s long arm statute, Va. Code 8.01-328.1(A)(4).Plaintiff filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Loudoun County against Defendant, alleging that Defendant had illegal used asserts from accounts belonging to others to fund certain litigation. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction by special appearance. The circuit court indicated that section 8.01-328.1(A)(4) constituted the only viable ground for personal jurisdiction over Defendant and that the facts did not support a finding that Defendant engaged in a “persistent course of conduct” in Virginia. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in ruling that Defendant did not engage in a persistent course of conduct in the forum jurisdiction and was not therefore subject to the circuit court’s in personam jurisdiction. View "Mercer v. MacKinnon" on Justia Law
Posted in: Civil Procedure
Bergano v. City of Virginia Beach
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court denying Appellant’s petition for a writ of mandamus asking the court to compel the City of Virginia Beach to limit the scope of the redaction the City provided in response to Appellant’s request for documents under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA), holding that the circuit court’s application of the attorney-client and work-production exceptions was excessively broad.Appellant made a request under VFOIA asking for records of all legal fees an expert invoices relating to all of the City’s expenses in litigating against him in federal court. After the City provided extensively redacted records Appellant filed his petition for writ of mandamus. The circuit court denied the petition, concluding that the attorney-client exception and the work-product exception justified the City’s redactions. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a further in camera review and for disclosure of unreacted billing records, holding that the circuit court allowed the City to withhold some entries from disclosure when those records plainly did not fall within the VFOIA exceptions for work-product and attorney-client privilege. View "Bergano v. City of Virginia Beach" on Justia Law
Posted in: Civil Procedure
Kerns v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court dismissing Plaintiff’s suit alleging breach of contract claims against Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. pursuant to the applicable statute of limitations, holding that because Plaintiff did not file his suit within five years of the date of accrual, the statute of limitations barred his claims.After a foreclosure sale of the property at issue, Plaintiff filed this complaint alleging that Wells Fargo breached a mortgage loan agreement by failing to give him a contractually required opportunity to cure his default and by improperly accelerating the balance due after his default. The circuit court concluded that the debt acceleration had triggered the accrual of the breach of contract claims and that this breach had occurred more than five years before Plaintiff filed suit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff’s breach of contract claims were barred by the statute of limitations. View "Kerns v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law
McCulley v. Brooks & Co.
The Supreme Court held that a general appearance after the entry of a final judgment that is void ab initio because of the absence of personal jurisdiction does not, by itself, convert the prior void judgment into a valid one.A landlord obtained a default judgment against a commercial tenant and its guarantor for unpaid rent. The judgment was void as to the guarantor because the landlord failed properly to serve the complaint on him. The circuit court, however, found that the guarantor had entered a general appearance during post-judgment enforcement proceedings and thereby waived any objection to the validity of the default judgment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred in denying the guarantor’s motion to vacate the default judgment because the judgment was void as to the guarantor. View "McCulley v. Brooks & Co." on Justia Law
Robert & Bertha Robinson Family, LLC v. Allen
This case provided the Supreme Court an opportunity to provide guidance on what happens if one of multiple losing parties wishes to appeal from a general district court (GDC) judgment involving consolidated claims by several parties.The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s award of sanctions against Landlord and award of damages in favor of Tenants in this dispute over holdover rent and property damages. Landlord filed a warrant in debt against Tenants. Tenants filed a counterclaim. The GDC ruled against both parties and dismissed all claims. Landlord appealed to the circuit court but later withdrew its appeal. The circuit court awarded sanctions against Landlord and awarded damages in favor of Tenants on their unappealed counterclaim without hearing evidence on the matter. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the circuit court abused its discretion by applying a rationale for a sanctions award that finds no support in either the text of Va. Code 8.01-271.1 or this court’s opinions applying it; and (2) the circuit court erred in adjudicating Tenants’ counterclaim. View "Robert & Bertha Robinson Family, LLC v. Allen" on Justia Law