BMHJ Blog: Legal Information, Resources, & News: Intentional Torts

GDC Practice in the Time of Covid-19

Angela M. London
August 4th, 2020
By: Angela M. London

The legal profession, like many other industries, has experienced significant upheaval as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Since mid-March, many lawyers and law firms have utilized work from home policies to ensure that attorneys and staff stay productive and meet their obligations to clients. However the initial uncertainty of the coronavirus resulted in the closure of courthouses to the public throughout the Commonwealth.

According to the Supreme Court of Virginia, from March 16, 2020, with the issuance of the Court’s first COVID Order, to May 1, 2020, the General District Courts of Virginia continued approximately 413,000 cases to a later date. This has created a significant backlog that these courts must now work through.

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A claim of “personal injury” for alleged mold exposure doesn’t turn every alleged breach of original construction contract into a tort.

Melissa H. Katz, Esquire
November 2nd, 2019
By: Melissa H. Katz, Esquire

Recently, the Virginia Supreme Court, in the case of Tingler v. Graystone Homes, Inc. held that the trial court did not err in its ruling sustaining a home builder’s demurrer to a negligence count for alleged breach of the original construction contract. In that case, a family, in related suits alleged personal injuries and damage resulting from mold that developed in a home built by the defendant contractor. The plaintiffs pled many theories of liability, all of which were dismissed by the trial court.

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Expert Witness Disclosures and Judicial Estoppel

Melissa H. Katz, Esquire
May 16th, 2016
By: Melissa H. Katz, Esquire

Recently, the Virginia Supreme Court reversed and remanded an assault and battery case in favor of the plaintiff and tried in the Circuit Court of Fairfax County. In Mikhaylov v. Sales, 2016 Va. LEXIS 53 (April 21, 2016), Michael E. Thorsen, Esquire represented the defendant Mikhaylov and battled several adverse court rulings. The first involved defendant’s inability to contest the assault and battery allegations. Because the defendant had pled guilty to an assault and battery charge in an earlier criminal case, the judge instructed the jury that “the defendant cannot deny that he assaulted and battered the plaintiff.” Mikhaylov objected to the instruction contending that it “in essence, grants summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff as to the assault and battery claim.” The Virginia Supreme Court reversed finding that the court had erred in applying “judicial estoppel” in the civil suit by plaintiff Sales against Mikhaylov based upon his prior guilty plea in the related criminal case. While the guilty plea was not inadmissible pursuant to Va. Code Section 8.01-418, it did not constitute a “preclusive bar” under the doctrine of judicial estoppel “unless the parties are the same.” Therefore, the court erred by precluding Mikhaylov from defending the assault and battery allegations. This case is important as it underscores that the mere fact that a defendant pleads guilty or nolo contendere in a related criminal charge does not bar that defendant from disputing liability in a civil case.

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Tort Reform in Virginia

Nicholas J. Lawrence, Esquire
March 31st, 2013
By: Nicholas J. Lawrence, Esquire

Two bills involving tort reform have recently passed the Virginia General Assembly, and are expected to be become law. One addresses the use of discovery depositions in support of a motion for summary judgment, and the other addresses the award of expert witness fees when a nonsuit is taken shortly before trial.

House Bill 1708 amends Va. Code § 8.01-420 to allow limited use of discovery depositions under some circumstances in support of a motion for summary judgment. The amendment clarifies the statute to allow summary judgment to be based on requests for admission that are in turn based on deposition testimony, so long as the deposition testimony is not referenced in the request for admission, and the party is not required to admit having testified to specific facts.

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Court Affirms That Once Worker’s Compensation Act Applies, It Is an Absolute Bar to Subsequent Tort Suit

Steven W. Bancroft, Esquire
July 16th, 2012
By: Steven W. Bancroft, Esquire

The Virginia Supreme Court recently ruled on a case defended by the firm that once the Virginia Worker’s Compensation Act is found to apply to a work related accident, it bars any subsequent tort action. Pursuant to §65.2-307 of the Virginia Code, the Supreme Court of Virginia affirmed the trial court’s decision dismissing a wrongful death action against the general contractor even when death benefits were not awarded under the Worker’s Compensation Act.

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This blog and the information provided has been prepared by Bancroft, McGavin, Horvath & Judkins, P.C. (“BMHJ”) for information purposes only and is not intended nor to be construed as legal advice. This blog may contain the opinions of the members and associates of this firm on various legal issues and is not legal advice. Read More