Justia Virginia Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Construction Law
Historic Alexandria Foundation v. City of Alexandria
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court determining that the Historic Alexandria Foundation lacked standing to pursue the claims asserted in this case, holding that there was no error in the circuit court's judgment.Vowell, LLC filed applications to obtain certain permits for the renovation of property located in the Old and Historic District of the City of Alexandria. The Old and Historic Alexandria District Board of Architectural Review (the BAR) approved Vowell's applications, and the City Council affirmed the BAR's decision. The Foundation appealed the City's Council decision. The circuit court dismissed the matter with prejudice, concluding that the petition did not establish that the Foundation was an aggrieved party with standing to pursue the appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Foundation lacked standing because the allegations of the petition failed to establish that the Foundation suffered particularized harm that differed from that suffered by the public in general. View "Historic Alexandria Foundation v. City of Alexandria" on Justia Law
Stafford County v. D.R. Horton, Inc.
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court concluding that the cluster development plans submitted by two developers were not subject to planning commission review under Va. Code 15.2-2232, holding that the circuit court erred.Two real estate developers proposed to build conventional subdivisions and then reconfigured their previously approved subdivisions into cluster developments. The county planning department advised the developers that they would need to undergo another comprehensive plan compliance review in accordance with section 15.2-2232 because their new plans significantly deviated from the previously approved plans. The developers sought writs of mandamus requiring the county to approve the plans and writs of prohibition preventing the county from ordering a comprehensive plan review. The circuit court ruled in favor of the developers and entered an order directing the county to approver the cluster development concept plans. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the approvals of prior subdivision plans did not foreclose the requirement of a section 15.2-2232 review by the planning commission of different plans later submitted. View "Stafford County v. D.R. Horton, Inc." on Justia Law
Davis Construction Corp. v. FTJ, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court holding that a general contractor was liable for construction materials provided by a supplier to one of the general contractor's subcontractors, holding that the distinct circumstances of this case permitted the supplier to obtain relief for the general contractor's unjust enrichment.General Contractor contracted with Subcontractor to assist with a residential condominium project. Subcontractor agreed to purchase materials from Supplier and to pay Supplier for materials delivered. General Contractor and Subcontractor entered into a joint check agreement specifying a method for how Supplier would be paid for the materials it shipped to the job. Supplier ultimately shipped $252,062 in materials for which it was not paid due to the Subcontractor's financial difficulties. General Contractor ultimately used those materials to complete the project. Supplier sued General Contractor and Subcontractor alleging breach of contract and unjust enrichment. Supplier obtained a default judgment against Subcontractor. After a trial, the court ruled for Supplier in its claim of unjust enrichment against General Contractor. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the joint check agreement did not foreclose relief; (2) General Contractor was not being compelled to pay twice for the materials; and (3) Supplier was permitted to obtain relief for General Contractor's unjust enrichment. View "Davis Construction Corp. v. FTJ, Inc." on Justia Law
Curley v. Commonwealth
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the trial court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress and upholding his convictions for several drug and firearm-related offenses, holding that probable cause existed for the warrantless search of Defendant’s vehicle.Defendant argued in support of his motion to suppress the evidence discovered during the warrantless search of his vehicle that the police lacked probable cause to conduct the search. The trial court denied the motion, concluding that Defendant’s furtive movements, nervous demeanor, and possession of a digital scale containing suspected cocaine residue provided the requisite probable cause. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the facts of this case, there was sufficient evidence to establish that the police officer had probable cause to search Defendant’s vehicle because there was a “fair probability” that contraband or evidence of a crime would be found. View "Curley v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law
Desai v. A. R. Design Group, Inc.
Defendant recorded a mechanic’s lien for work done on two properties that had been placed in a trust. The trustee filed a petition challenging the validity of the liens, arguing that the memoranda for mechanic’s lien were defective because they failed to specifically name the trustee, improperly identified the claimant, and failed to list either a date from which interest was claimed or a date on which the debt was due. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the memoranda for mechanic’s lien either complied with the relevant statutes outright or were substantially compliant. View "Desai v. A. R. Design Group, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Construction Law
Hensel Phelps Construction Co. v. Thompson Masonry Contractor, Inc.
In 1997, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University awarded General Contractor a prime contract for construction work. General Contractor hired Subcontractors to complete portions of the project. Sureties acted as sureties to Subcontractors. After construction was substantially completed, Virginia Tech made final payment to General Contractor in 1999, which made final payment to Subcontractors. All work was concluded in 2000. In 2012, Virginia Tech asserted a claim against General Contractor seeking compensation for the cost of remedying defective workmanship. In 2014, General Contractor settled the claim with Virginia Tech and, the same year, filed this action alleging breach of contract and common law indemnity claims against Subcontractors and breach of contract claims against Sureties. In 2015, the court dismissed the case in its entirety, concluding, as relevant to this appeal, that the statute of limitations barred the breach of contract claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the statute of limitations had run by the filing of the suit in 2014, and because any breach of Subcontractors occurred at the time of their respective performances, the statute of limitations had similarly run against Sureties. View "Hensel Phelps Construction Co. v. Thompson Masonry Contractor, Inc." on Justia Law
William H. Gordon Assocs. v. Heritage Fellowship, United Church of Christ
Church entered into an engineering contract with Civil Engineer (Engineer) to design site plans for a rain tank system. Church entered into a contract with General Contractor (GC) for the construction of the rain tank. After GC installed the rain tank, the tank collapsed. Engineer designed and GC installed a different storm water management system, but Church refused to pay GC for installing the new storm water system. GC sued Church for payment, and Church counterclaimed against GC for breach of contract. Church filed a third-party claim against Engineer for repair and replacement costs it was found to owe GC because of the rain tank collapse. Church filed a separate suit against Engineer. The circuit court concluded that the rain tank collapse was the failure of Engineer, entered judgment for GC on its claims against Church, and awarded Church damages for delay and other damages associated with removing and replacing the rain tank. Engineer appealed. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the judgment of the circuit court finding Church’s claims timely and Engineer liable on Church’s breach of contract claims; and (2) reversed the circuit court’s judgment granting Church damages in the form of construction loan interest that was not incurred as a result of the breach of contract. Remanded. View "William H. Gordon Assocs. v. Heritage Fellowship, United Church of Christ" on Justia Law
Synchronized Constr. Servs., Inc. v. Prav Lodging, LLC
Construction Manager subcontracted with Subcontractor to do work on a construction project. After the project was substantially complete, Subcontractor recorded a mechanic’s lien for unpaid work on the project. Subcontractor then filed a complaint against Construction Manager as the general contractor of the project, the owner of the property (Landowner), and the bank that financed the project (Bank) to enforce its mechanic’s lien. Construction Manager did not enter an appearance in the case. The circuit court subsequently granted an application filed by Landowner and Bank and released the real estate that had been subject to Subcontractor’s mechanic’s lien. Bank filed a motion to dismiss the mechanic’s lien claim on the basis that Subcontractor failed to timely serve Construction Manager, who it alleged to be a necessary party to the mechanic’s lien enforcement action. The circuit court agreed and dismissed the mechanic’s lien claim with prejudice. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Construction Manager, as the general contractor, was not a necessary party to Subcontractor’s mechanic’s lien enforcement action. Remanded. View "Synchronized Constr. Servs., Inc. v. Prav Lodging, LLC" on Justia Law
Jones v. Commonwealth
Twelve years after he pled guilty to capital murder in exchange for a sentence of life without the possibility of parole Appellant filed a motion to vacate his sentence. Appellant, who was seventeen years old when he committed the murder, argued that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Miller v. Alabama applied retroactively to his case. The circuit denied the motion without a hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the sentencing scheme applicable to Appellant’s conviction was not a mandatory life without the possibility of parole scheme; and (2) therefore, even if Miller applied retroactively, it was not applicable to the Virginia sentencing statutes at issue in this case. View "Jones v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law
Glasser & Glasser, PLC v. Jack Bays, Inc.
Jack Bays, Inc. did site work on the construction of a new church (New Life). Jack Bays contracted with several subcontractors, eleven of which were parties to this action. New Life obtained additional funds for the project through three lenders. The Lenders were listed on the deed of trust for the new financing. After New Life stopped making to Jack Bays due to lack of funding, Jack Bays recorded its memorandum of mechanics' lien against New Life and terminated the construction contract. All Contractors timely filed complaints against the Lenders. The circuit court ordered that the property be sold at public auction with the proceeds to be applied in satisfaction of the mechanics' liens in the following order of priority: Subcontractors, Jack Bays, and Lenders. The Lenders appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the circuit court (1) did not err in finding that Jack Bays' lien was valid; (2) was not plainly wrong in determining that the Contractors' liens had priority over the Lenders' deed of trust; but (3) erred in approving the sale of the entire parcel of land to satisfy the Contractors' liens, where no evidence was introduced to support this decision. Remanded.View "Glasser & Glasser, PLC v. Jack Bays, Inc." on Justia Law