Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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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

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded the judgment of the circuit court dismissing La Bella Dona Skin Care, Inc.’s (LBD) civil conspiracy claims, granting summary judgment on LBD’s claim for fraudulent conveyance, and applying a clear and convincing standard of proof to LBD’s mere continuation theory of successor liability. LBD filed this complaint against eleven defendants seeking damages and injunctive relief as a result of Defendants’ involvement in a series of allegedly fraudulent conveyances designed to avoid an outstanding judgment in favor of LBD. The court held that the circuit court (1) did not err when it dismissed LBD’s civil conspiracy claims on demurrer where a fraudulent conveyance under Va. Code 55-80 cannot serve as the predicate unlawful act needed to support a claim for statutory or common law conspiracy; (2) erred in dismissing LBD’s fraudulent conveyance claim on summary judgment where a prima facie case of fraudulent conveyance may be established when the recipient is a third party creditor with a higher security interest; and (3) erred by applying a clear and convincing standard of proof to LBD’s mere continuation theory of successor liability. View "La Bella Dona Skin Care, Inc. v. Belle Femme Enterprises" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court concluding that McKinley Chiropractic Center, P.C. (McKinley) was entitled to judgment against Erie Insurance Company (Erie). Devonta Dodson was involved in a motor vehicle collision with Joann Hutson. Erie insured Hutson with liability coverage under an automobile insurance company. Dodson, who sought chiropractic care for her injuries arising from the collision, executed a document assigning to McKinley all insurance and/or litigation proceeds to which she may be entitled and all causes of action she might have against Erie. Dodson subsequently accepted $7,300 from Erie in return for Dodson’s agreement to release both Hutson and Erie from causes of action arising from the claimed legal liability of Hutson and Erie arising out of the accident. McKinley subsequently filed a warrant in debt against Erie. The district court rendered judgment for the chiropractic services provided to Dodson. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, as a matter of law, McKinley did not have a right to sue Erie. View "Erie Insurance Co. v. McKinley Chiropractic Center, P.C." on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice action, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant’s motion to set aside the jury verdict in favor of Plaintiff. On appeal, Defendant argued that Plaintiff did not plead a claim for battery in her complaint and that the trial court erred in instructing the jury on battery and informed consent and in denying his motion to strike that claim. The Supreme Court agreed with Defendant, holding (1) the initial complaint did not allege a claim for battery, and the trial court erred in instructing the jury on battery; (2) Plaintiff failed to establish proximate causation in connection with a theory of informed consent; and (3) the appropriate remedy for the errors was a remand for a new trial on Plaintiff’s original theory of negligence. View "Allison v. Brown" on Justia Law

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For nearly a decade, Petitioner, as a pro se litigant, has filed numerous pleadings in the Supreme Court, all of which have been meritless. In 2017, the Supreme Court issued a rule to show cause against Petitioner, directing her to show cause why she should not be prohibited from filing any future pro se petition for appeal, or other pleading in the court, without first obtaining leave of court. In the underlying case, Petitioner field a complaint against Defendant alleging breach of contract and gross negligence. The trial court dismissed the case with prejudice. Petitioner unsuccessfully petitioned the Supreme Court for an appeal. The Supreme Court denied Adkins’ petition for rehearing and instructed the clerk to comply with this order as it pertains to future filings, finding it necessary to impose a pre-filing injunction against Petitioner in this court. View "Adkins v. CP/IPERS Arlington Hotel LLC" on Justia Law

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Gina Coutlakis filed a third amended complaint against CSX Transportation, Inc., the train’s conductor, and the train’s engineer (collectively, Appellees) alleging that Appellees’ negligence resulted in the death of her husband, James Coutlakis, after he was struck by a part of the train. Appellees demurred, arguing that James’s contributory negligence was evident on the face of the complaint, and therefore, Gina’s claim was barred. Further, Appellees asserted that Gina’s reliance on the last clear chance doctrine was misplaced. The trial court sustained the demurrer. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Gina’s third amended complaint contained sufficient allegations to survive the demurrer and that a rational jury could conclude the last clear chance doctrine applies based upon the facts pled and any reasonable inferences therefrom. Remanded. View "Coutlakis v. CSX Transportation, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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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

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Two property owners’ associations (POAs) sued various owners and developers of parcels in a shopping center, claiming that the shopping center’s sediment basins discharged sediment into a creek that flowed into a lake owned by the POAs. The POAs asserted two common-law rights of action, trespass and nuisance, and sought an award of compensatory and punitive damages along with an injunction abating the ongoing sediment incursion. The circuit court sustained pleas in bar brought by Defendants asserting the five-year statute of limitations, concluding that the incursion of sediment had been occurring for more than five years before the suit was filed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in applying the statute of limitations to the POAs’ claim of trespass damages and in denying the POAs’ motion for summary judgment. View "Forest Lakes Community Ass’n, Inc. v. United Land Corp. of America" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Dr. Matthew Mayr, a surgeon, mistakenly fused the wrong level on Michael Osborne’s spine. Catherine Osborne, Michael’s wife and the administrator of his estate, filed suit, alleging that Dr. Mayr was negligent and that he committed a battery. Thereafter, Plaintiff nonsuited her negligence claim and proceeded to trial exclusively on her battery claim. The trial court entered judgment for Plaintiff. At issue on appeal was whether Plaintiff could proceed on a theory of battery or whether the law confined Plaintiff to recovery under a negligence theory. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) battery and negligence constitute distinct theories of recovery, with distinct elements of proof; and (2) the undisputed facts of this case did not support a claim for battery. View "Mayr v. Osborne" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant seeking damages arising from personal injuries she claimed to have sustained when a vehicle being operated by Defendant struck the rear bumper of the vehicle Plaintiff was operating. Defendant admitted liability, and the trial was limited to the issue of damages. The jury awarded a verdict in favor of Plaintiff but awarded her no damages. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not err in denying Plaintiff’s motions to set aside the verdict and for a new trial; and (2) the trial court did not err in excluding a racially charged statement made by Defendant at the scene of the vehicle accident. View "Gilliam v. Immel" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury