Articles Posted in Injury 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

Posted in: Contracts, Injury 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

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Pike underwent complex surgery at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center to reconstruct the back of his mouth and was taken, for recovery, to the Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit. Unit patients are often in very critical condition and each nurse is responsible for two patients at most. Following a surgery such as Pike’s, it is important to keep the patient’s head stable to enable blood to flow. Pike's doctors did not write any orders specifically governing the position of his head or neck. A surgeon at the hospital testified that he would rely on the skill and expertise of the nurse to position the patient’s head. Five days after the surgery, Pike was found in a position that would cause “venous compromise.” The staff was instructed to avoid this practice. That afternoon, Pike’s physician found Pike again in that position, his face and neck massively swollen. Pike had to undergo further surgery, which was not successful. Pike's malpractice complaint was dismissed on the basis of sovereign immunity. Pike argued that Hagaman, a registered nurse, was not entitled to sovereign immunity. The Supreme Court of Virginia affirmed, noting that Hagaman’s discretion was cabined by physicians’ orders, that she could not refuse to accept a particular patient, that the hospital “had a high degree of control over Hagaman," who was supervised by senior staff, and that she was subject to hospital policies. The hospital pays her wages and determines her schedule. View "Pike v. Hagaman" 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

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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

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Plaintiff, an inmate incarcerated at the Deerfield Correctional Center, allegedly injured her knee while working in the canning department of the Southampton complex. Plaintiff filed a complaint against the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth filed a special plea in bar asserting that Plaintiff’s action was barred by sovereign immunity because Plaintiff failed to state the agency that was allegedly liable for her injuries in her notice of claim as required by the Virginia Tort Claims Act (VTCA). The trial court sustained the Commonwealth’s plea in bar. the Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff’s claim was barred by sovereign immunity, as Plaintiff failed to meet the express notice requirements of the VTCA. View "Phelan v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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Plaintiff was injured when her vehicle was struck by a vehicle driven by Defendant. In 2011, Plaintiff filed a complaint to recover damages for injuries she suffered in the collision, but the complaint contained a misnomer that misnamed Defendant. Plaintiff subsequently moved to nonsuit her claim, and the trial court granted the nonsuit. In 2012, Plaintiff refiled her complaint properly naming Defendant. Defendant filed a special plea in bar asserting that Plaintiff’s claim was barred by the statute of limitations. Specifically, Plaintiff argued that the 2011 complaint did not toll the statute of limitations where Plaintiff failed to correct the misnomer within the time period contemplated by Va. Code 8.01-6. The trial court sustained Plaintiff’s plea in bar. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that although Plaintiff was not properly named in the 2011 complaint, there was no doubt that she was the party identified, and therefore, the tolling provisions of Va. Code 8.01-229(E) applied, and Plaintiff’s 2012 complaint was timely filed. View "Richmond v. Volk" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and Defendants owned adjacent properties. Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendants alleging timber theft, trespass, and property damage and seeking an injunction, alleging that Defendants removed timber from her property without her permission. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff and awarded attorney’s fees. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) Plaintiff was entitled to recover any directly associated legal costs that she incurred as a result of the trespass but was not entitled to recover attorney’s fees; and (2) the trial court did not err in allowing Plaintiff’s claim for timber trespass to go to the jury. View "Chacey v. Garvey" on Justia Law

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Mitchell Kambis owns John Rolfe Realty and Elegant Homes of Virginia (collectively, the Kambis parties). Kambis and April Considine formed and were the sole members of Villa Deste, LLC. Patricia Wolfe, Considine’s mother, later loaned money to Villa Deste for the purchase and development of real estate and the construction of a home that Considine and Kambis later occupied. Kambis eventually transferred his interest in Villa Deste and its assets to Considine for value received. Later, the Kambis parties filed a second and third amended complaint alleging several claims agains Considine, Villa Deste, and Wolfe (collectively, the Considine parties). After a complex procedural history, the Kambis parties eventually nonsuited their claims against the Considine parties. The trial court also granted the Considine parties’ motion for sanctions, ordering Kambis to pay $84,541 in sanctions. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s award of sanctions, holding that the award of sanctions was properly based on the reasons enumerated in Va. Code 8.01-271.1. View "Kambis v. Considine" on Justia Law