Happy Holidays from Westlake Legal Group! Here are a few snippets from interesting cases in 2017, courtesy of the Virginia Lawyers Weekly.
Discharge Denied for False Property Valuation
A chapter 7 debtor who had two degrees in finance and a professional career as a financial advisor should have known that his lowball valuation of a minority interest in a real estate investment company at just 4 percent of his initial capital contribution was too low to be accurate; the 4th Circuit affirms a denial of a discharge in bankruptcy under the false oath provision of 11 U.S.C. § 727(a)(4).
Robinson v. Worley (VLW 017-2-052) (17 pp.)
Same Transaction’ Test Saves Refiled Suit
A plaintiff who nonsuited her dental malpractice suit alleging nerve damage from a negligent root canal, but refiled her complaint with additional allegations, survives defendant’s plea in bar with the Alexandria Circuit Court’s application of the “same transaction or occurrence” test, instead of the “same evidence” test advocated by defendant.
Panth v. Ashouripour, DDS (VLW 017-8-006) (2 pp.)
Emails With Carrier Must Be Produced
In plaintiff’s suit alleging injuries sustained at a paper plant when a commercial rigging tool he was using to remove a steam air heater coil broke, a Norfolk U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge grants plaintiff’s motion to compel defendant United Rentals to produce emails between United Rentals and an insurance carrier sent in the ordinary course of business immediately following the accident.
Goff v. United Rentals NA (VLW 017-3-167) (6 pp.)
Portions of Release Admissible to Show Risk
Prior to trial of plaintiff’s suit for injuries he suffered while playing indoor Segway Polo at the Homestead hotel, the Harrisonburg U.S. District Court denies plaintiff’s motion to exclude the “Segway Personal Transporter Tours Liability Release Form” in its entirety; portions of the Release are admissible to show that plaintiff was aware of the risks of playing Segway Polo.
McConnel v. Omni Hotels Mgmt. Corp. (VLW 017-3-356) (4 pp.)
Nonlawyer Signatures OK’d for Agency Staff
Petitions for the emergency removal of children and for termination of parental rights signed by social workers, not lawyers, were properly filed in the juvenile and domestic relations courts, under amendments to Va. Code §§ 16.1-260(A), 54.1-3900 and Code § 63.2-332; each of the form petitions in these appeals that were signed by nonlawyer agency employees were valid pleadings that did not constitute unauthorized practice of law by those employees, the Court of Appeals holds.
Rudolph v. City of Newport News Dep’t of Human Services (VLW 016-7-310) (9 pp.)
Court Doubts Probable Cause for Drug Arrest
The 4th Circuit reverses summary judgment in this civil rights suit for defendant police officer who arrested plaintiff “April Smith” for selling crack cocaine, leading to her detention for 80 days before the criminal charges were dropped; even ignoring whether plaintiff’s weight, at either 160 pounds or 200 pounds, qualified as “skinny,” a criminal history, common gender and unfortunately common name is not enough to establish probable cause.
Smith v. Munday (VLW 017-2-031) (31 pp.)
No Free Speech Claim from Facebook Comment Removal
A prosecutor’s deletion of plaintiff’s comment on the Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s official Facebook page, and blocking of plaintiff from leaving further comments for several months, did not violate plaintiff’s First Amendment rights, an Alexandria U.S. District Court holds; defendant also is entitled to qualified immunity and 11th Amendment immunity with respect to plaintiff’s claims for damages against defendant in his official capacity.
Davison v. Plowman (VLW 017-3-180) (32 pp.)
Sexting teen has suit against police
A teen charged with child pornography offenses after sexting his teenage girlfriend can sue a police detective who forced the teen to masturbate so the detective could get photos for evidence.
Sims v. Labowitz (VLW 017-2-209) (30 pp.)
Due Process Denied in Student Misconduct Case
A male college student wins summary judgment against James Madison University in his suit alleging he was not afforded due process in JMU’s investigation and discipline of him for sexual misconduct in allegedly forcing sex upon a female student; the Harrisonburg U.S. District Court says plaintiff was deprived of his protected property interest in continued enrollment at JMU, without adequate due process.
Doe v. Alger (VLW 017-3-026) (30 pp.)
Jacqueline A. Kramer
Attorney at Law