Supreme Court of Virginia Decisions 2017

Ahmed v. Commonwealth  
Date: December 28, 2017
Docket Number: 161180

Justia Opinion Summary: Ahmed alleged that as an inmate at Greensville Correctional Center, he suffered an injury to his head and neck on September 10, 2013, when the telephone he was using fell from the wall and struck him. Ahmed filed informa...

Emerald Point, LLC v. Hawkins  
Date: December 28, 2017
Docket Number: 161339

Justia Opinion Summary: The carbon monoxide detector in an apartment sounded. A maintenance worker replaced the batteries; the alarm later sounded again. The following morning, tenants called Virginia Natural Gas (VNG). VNG’s inspector measured...

Pijor v. Commonwealth  
Date: December 28, 2017
Docket Number: 161346

Justia Opinion Summary: Pijor was found guilty of perjury, Code 18.2-434, based on testimony Pijor gave during a larceny trial in which he was acquitted. Pijor, having testified that he had not taken his ex-girlfriend’s dog, was later found to...

Rickman v. Commonwealth  
Date: December 28, 2017
Docket Number: 161489

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2003, Rickman was convicted of five counts of aggravated sexual battery, two of forcible sodomy, one of abduction of a minor, one of object sexual penetration, one of taking indecent liberties with a minor, and one of...

Shin v. Commonwealth  
Date: December 28, 2017
Docket Number: 170128

Justia Opinion Summary: Shin was arrested for DWI. Shin declined the arresting officer's demand that he provide a blood and breath sample. The officer then read Form DC-233, “Implied Consent Declaration” to Shin, Code 18.2-268.3(C), which state...

Shifflett v. Latitude Properties, Inc.  
Date: December 14, 2017
Docket Number: 161290

Justia Opinion Summary: Where an income tax return has not been filed by the return date on a writ of fieri facias, any potential income tax refunds for the applicable tax year are not “in possession of or under the control of the debtor” so as...

Commonwealth v. Campbell  
Date: December 14, 2017
Docket Number: 161676

Justia Opinion Summary: At issue was whether evidence of a search must be suppressed under Va. Code 19.2-54 because a magistrate incorrectly faxed only portions of a search warrant to the clerk of the circuit court. Defendant was charged with...

MCR Federal, LLC v. JB&A, Inc.  
Date: December 14, 2017
Docket Number: 161799

Justia Opinion Summary: At issue was whether, during the sale of JB&A, Inc., a government contracting firm, to MCR Federal, LLC, another government contractor, MCR’s false statement of that a representation and warranty in the contract remained...

Irving v. Divito  
Date: December 14, 2017
Docket Number: 170071

Justia Opinion Summary: The circuit court did not err by concluding that a holographic writing did not comply with Va. Code 64.2-403 or -404. After the decedent died, the executor of the decedent’s estate submitted the decedent’s will and a wr...

Eilber v. Floor Care Specialists, Inc.  
Date: December 7, 2017
Docket Number: 161311

Justia Opinion Summary: 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...

Kim v. Kim  
Date: December 7, 2017
Docket Number: 161505

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court dismissing Plaintiff’s claims of undue influence in this action seeking to void a trust established by the decedent eight days before his death. Plaintiff, the de...

Rastek Construction & Development Corp. v. General Land Commercial Real Estate Co., LLC  
Date: November 30, 2017
Docket Number: 161549

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court awarding a sales commission to a real estate broker (Broker) despite the fact that a contemplated sale ultimately never took place. The trial court concluded (1)...

Judicial Inquiry & Review Commission v. Pomrenke  
Date: November 27, 2017
Docket Number: 170889

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court ordered that Kurt J. Pomrenke be removed immediately from the office of Judge of the Twenty-Eighth Juvenile and Domestic Relations Judicial District, concluding that Judge Pomrenke’s conduct was of suff...

Woolford v. Virginia Department of Taxation  
Date: November 22, 2017
Docket Number: 161095

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court sustaining the Tax Department’s decision to rescind $4.9 million in land preservation tax credits it had previously awarded to the Woolford family on the groun...

Grethen v. Robinson  
Date: November 22, 2017
Docket Number: 161417

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court reversed the determination of the trial court that Appellant, an inmate, could not proceed in forma pauperis with his petition for a writ of mandamus. Consistent with Va. Code 8.01-691, Appellant attac...

Appalachian Regional Healthcare v. Cunningham  
Date: November 22, 2017
Docket Number: 161767

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed the State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) denial of claims filed by a group of Kentucky hospitals requesting reimbursement for legal fees and costs from Reciprocal of America (ROA), an insolvent...

Cole v. Commonwealth  
Date: November 16, 2017
Docket Number: 161113

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals regarding its ruling on the law of the case doctrine but affirmed its judgment regarding its rulings on the admission of certain strip search evidence and D...

Chilton-Belloni v. Angle  
Date: November 9, 2017
Docket Number: 160612

Justia Opinion Summary: The circuit court erred in relying on principles of res judicata to refuse to stay an injunction brought by the City of Staunton’s Zoning Administrator against the landowner in this case pending further proceedings befor...

Levick v. MacDougall  
Date: November 2, 2017
Docket Number: 160540

Justia Opinion Summary: Contrary to the conclusions of the lower courts in this divorce case, Richard Levick’s marriage to Deborah MacDougall was not voidable or void ab initio, and therefore, the circuit court had authority to distribute the m...

Gray v. Binder  
Date: November 2, 2017
Docket Number: 161419

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court ruling that the Commissioner of Accounts had subject matter jurisdiction to hear a petition for aid and direction initially filed with the Commissioner seeking...

La Bella Dona Skin Care, Inc. v. Belle Femme Enterprises  
Date: October 26, 2017
Docket Number: 161195

Justia Opinion Summary: 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 f...

Kalergis v. Virginia Commissioner of Highways  
Date: October 26, 2017
Docket Number: 161347

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court sustaining a demurrer filed by the Commissioner of Highways in his capacity as chief executive officer of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) in t...

Commonwealth v. Leonard  
Date: October 19, 2017
Docket Number: 160952

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals, which vacated Defendant’s sentence for DUI, third offense, and remanded the case to the trial court for sentencing on DUI, second offense. The court of app...

Graves v. Commonwealth  
Date: October 12, 2017
Docket Number: 160688

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court insofar as it imposed a sentence upon Defendant exceeding the punishment authorized by the General Assembly in Va. Code 18.2-53.1. Graves was convicted of usin...

Graham v. Community Management Corp.  
Date: October 12, 2017
Docket Number: 161066

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court dismissing Plaintiff’s action seeking to recover attorney fees she incurred in defending a prior action. The trial court concluded that Rule 3:25 precluded Plain...

Howsare v. Commonwealth (Order)
Date: September 29, 2017
Docket Number: 160414
Palmer v. R. A. Yancey Lumber Corp.  
Date: September 14, 2017
Docket Number: 160664

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court approving modifications to an easement by necessity crossing Joanna Palmer’s property. The circuit court approved the modifications after finding that they wer...

Erie Insurance Co. v. McKinley Chiropractic Center, P.C.  
Date: September 14, 2017
Docket Number: 161172

Justia Opinion Summary: 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...

Old Dominion Committee for Fair Utility Rates v. State Corp. Commission  
Date: September 14, 2017
Docket Number: 161519

Justia Opinion Summary: In these consolidated appeals, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the State Corporation Commission upholding the constitutionality of Va. Code 56-585.1:1, which suspended the Commission’s biennial base rate revie...

Dietz v. Commonwealth  
Date: September 7, 2017
Docket Number: 160857

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals rejecting Defendant’s argument that the evidence was insufficient to prove she committed the offense of using a cell phone for “purposes of procuring or pro...

Williams v. Commonwealth  
Date: August 31, 2017
Docket Number: 160257

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of the circuit court sentencing Defendant to serve a prison term before beginning his involuntary civil commitment. Defendant pleaded guilty to an offense committed in July and no...

Kohl's Department Stores, Inc. v. Virginia Department of Taxation  
Date: August 31, 2017
Docket Number: 160681

Justia Opinion Summary: Kohl’s Department Stores, Inc. entered into a license agreement with Kohl’s Illinois, Inc., an affiliate of Kohl’s that operates retail stores in select states, but not Virginia, for the use of intellectual property mana...

City of Danville v. Garrett  
Date: August 31, 2017
Docket Number: 160979

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court ruling that the City of Danville and its Employees’ Retirement System were required by the provisions of Va. Code 51.1-813 to award a disability retirement ben...

Denton v. Browntown Valley Associates  
Date: August 31, 2017
Docket Number: 160999

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court in denying Seller specific performance of a contract for the sale of real property after finding that Seller failed to establish that he held marketable title....

Virginia Education Ass’n v. Davison  
Date: August 31, 2017
Docket Numbers: 161017, 161025, 161031

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court directing the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) to produce student growth percentile (SGP) data for certain Loudoun County Public School students under t...

Dulles Duty Free, LLC v. County of Loudoun  
Date: August 24, 2017
Docket Number: 160939

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court ruling favor of Loudoun County on Dulles Duty Free, LLC’s challenge to the County’s imposition of a business, professional, and occupational license (BPOL) tax...

In re Dennis  
Date: August 17, 2017
Docket Number: 160652

Justia Opinion Summary: James Gardner Dennis, an inmate in the Greenville Correctional Center, petitioned the circuit court to change his name to James Gardner Wright pursuant to Va. Code 8.01-217. The circuit court dismissed the application fo...

Allison v. Brown  
Date: July 27, 2017
Docket Number: 160314

Justia Opinion Summary: 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 di...

Summers v. Syptak  
Date: July 20, 2017
Docket Number: 160377

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court dismissing Plaintiff’s medical malpractice action against Dr. J. Michael Syptak and Harrisonburg Family Practice. Plaintiff pleaded theories of intentional infli...

Judicial Inquiry & Review Commission v. Bumgardner  
Date: July 20, 2017
Docket Number: 170133

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court dismissed the case filed by the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission against Rudolph Bumgardner, III, Senior Judge of the Court of Appeals and Humes J. Franklin, Jr., Retired Judge of the Twenty-Fifth...

Chaffins v. Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC  
Date: July 13, 2017
Docket Number: 160582

Justia Opinion Summary: The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC (ACP) sent Landowners letters seeking permission to enter their properties to conduct preliminary surveys and studies in order to build a natural gas transmission line. When Landowners wi...

Palmer v. Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC  
Date: July 13, 2017
Docket Number: 160630

Justia Opinion Summary: The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC (ACP) sought permission to enter Hazel Palmer’s property to conduct preliminary surveys in order to build a natural gas transmission line. When Palmer withheld her consent, ACP provided a...

Daily Press, LLC v. Office of Executive Secretary of Supreme Court of Virginia  
Date: June 29, 2017
Docket Number: 160889

Justia Opinion Summary: Clerks of court are statutorily designated custodians of court records, and therefore, The Daily Press must make its request to each jurisdiction’s clerk of court for certain court records rather than to the Office of th...

Gelber v. Glock  
Date: June 22, 2017
Docket Number: 160500

Justia Opinion Summary: At issue in this case was the validity of instruments executed by Beverly Gelber two months before she died. The documents purported to convey Beverly’s home and personal property to her daughter, Meryl Glock. Lawrence G...

Carter v. Commonwealth  
Date: June 22, 2017
Docket Number: 160993

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. The court held (1) assuming, without deciding, that the trial court erred by refusing to admi...

AGCS Marine Insurance Co. v. Arlington County  
Date: June 15, 2017
Docket Number: 160221

Justia Opinion Summary: Two property insurers issued policies to a Harris Teeter grocery store. The insurers together paid claims for property damage resulting from the malfunctioning of a county sewer line. Exercising their subrogation rights,...

Adkins v. CP/IPERS Arlington Hotel LLC  
Date: June 8, 2017
Docket Number: 160685

Justia Opinion Summary: 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, direc...

Commonwealth v. Moseley  
Date: June 8, 2017
Docket Number: 161013

Justia Opinion Summary: A rational fact-finder could reasonably find that the totality of the circumstances proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant was the criminal agent in each of the offenses charged in this case. Defendant was conv...

Howsare v. Commonwealth  
Date: June 1, 2017
Docket Number: 160414

Justia Opinion Summary: Defendant was convicted of second-degree murder, aggravated malicious wounding, and use of a firearm during the commission of a felony. After unsuccessfully appealing to the court of appeals, Defendant petitioned the Sup...

Hackett v. Commonwealth  
Date: June 1, 2017
Docket Number: 160619

Justia Opinion Summary: Defendant pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute marijuana. After both the conviction order and the sentencing order were entered, Defendant asked the trial court to reconsider the felony conviction. The...

Desai v. A. R. Design Group, Inc.  
Date: June 1, 2017
Docket Number: 160814

Justia Opinion Summary: 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 wer...

Commonwealth v. White  
Date: June 1, 2017
Docket Number: 160879

Justia Opinion Summary: The court of appeals reversed Defendant’s conviction for possession of heroin with the intent to distribute, third or subsequent offense, concluding that the trial court erred in denying Defendant’s pretrial motion to su...

Epps v. Commonwealth  
Date: June 1, 2017
Docket Number: 161002

Justia Opinion Summary: An indictment returned by a grand jury as a true bill in open court is not invalid when the order recording the indictment was not entered until after the trial on the indictment and no objection was made to the indictme...

Manu v. GEICO Casualty Co.  
Date: April 27, 2017
Docket Number: 160852

Justia Opinion Summary: Ebenezer Manu filed a complaint against GEICO Casualty Company alleging that GEICO violated Va. Code Ann. 8.01-66.1 for its bad faith conduct in adjusting his uninsured motorist bodily injury claim. Specifically, Manu al...

Hale v. Town of Warrenton  
Date: April 20, 2017
Docket Number: 160813

Justia Opinion Summary: After his employment as the Town of Warrenton’s Building Official ended, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint against the Town requesting a writ of mandamus to reappoint him as “the executive official in charge of the Wa...

Westlake Legal Group v. Flynn  
Date: April 13, 2017
Docket Number: 160013

Justia Opinion Summary: Client entered into a written representation agreement with Attorney for legal services. An attorney-in-fact for Client later filed a confession of judgment against Client in the amount of $9,460.07, with interest at eig...

Lambert v. Sea Oats Condominium Ass'n  
Date: April 13, 2017
Docket Number: 160269

Justia Opinion Summary: Martha Lambert filed a warrant in debt asserting that the Sea Oats Condominium Association failed to pay $500 to repair an exterior door to her condominium. Lambert sought $500 in damages and an award of attorney’s fees....

Chamberlain v. Marshall Auto & Truck Center, Inc.  
Date: April 13, 2017
Docket Number: 160349

Justia Opinion Summary: Marshall Auto & Truck Center, Inc. executed a promissory note in favor of Middleburg Bank. Charles Chamberlain executed a guaranty of that Note. Marshall failed to make payments to Middleburg, and the Bank withdrew funds...

Hilton v. Commonwealth  
Date: April 13, 2017
Docket Number: 160458

Justia Opinion Summary: After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of carjacking and use of a firearm in the commission of carjacking, along with robbery, attempted robbery, attempted malicious wounding, and three other counts of using a firea...

Toraish v. Lee  
Date: April 13, 2017
Docket Number: 160495

Justia Opinion Summary: Mariam Toraish, as the administrator of her deceased five-year-old son Adam’s estate, instituted a medical malpractice action against James J. Lee, M.D. and his practice. Lee had performed a tonsillectomy and adenoidecto...

Shepherd v. Conde  
Date: April 13, 2017
Docket Number: 160606

Justia Opinion Summary: A declaration of protective covenants and restrictions (Declaration) for a Subdivision created a Committee, an unincorporated association, to have full authority to enforce the Declaration. In 2014, an amendment of the D...

Kim v. Commonwealth  
Date: April 13, 2017
Docket Number: 160665

Justia Opinion Summary: Defendant was charged with unreasonable refusal to submit a breath sample under Va. Code 18.2-268.3. At trial, Defendant argued that the Commonwealth failed to prove that he was operating a motor vehicle on a “highway” a...

Lafferty v. School Board of Fairfax County  
Date: April 13, 2017
Docket Number: 160777

Justia Opinion Summary: Plaintiffs bought this lawsuit against the Fairfax County School Board seeking declaratory judgment and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief for the allegedly unlawful expansion of the school board’s non-discrimin...

Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Co. v. Erie Insurance Exchange  
Date: April 13, 2017
Docket Number: 160805

Justia Opinion Summary: Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company and Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company (together, Nationwide) brought a claim for declaratory judgment requesting that the trial court determine the priority of five separate ins...

Moonlight Enterprises, LLC v. Mroz  
Date: March 30, 2017
Docket Number: 160381

Justia Opinion Summary: Moonlight Enterprises LLC filed a legal malpractice action against attorneys Francis Mroz and Stephen Zachary. The circuit court granted the attorneys’ pleas in bar and dismissed them both on statute of limitations groun...

Coutlakis v. CSX Transportation, Inc.  
Date: March 9, 2017
Docket Number: 160277

Justia Opinion Summary: 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...

Verizon Online LLC v. Horbal  
Date: March 2, 2017
Docket Number: 151955

Justia Opinion Summary: The Tax Commissioner of Virginia directed Chesterfield County to issue refunds to Verizon Online LLC for local taxes it paid for tax years 2008, 2009 and 2010 on set top boxes it owned. The circuit court upheld the Tax C...

Boasso America Corp. v. Zoning Administrator of the City of Chesapeake  
Date: March 2, 2017
Docket Number: 160202

Justia Opinion Summary: Boasso American Corporation appealed an adverse decision by the Zoning Administrator for the City of Chesapeake to the Board of Zoning Appeals. The Board affirmed. Boasso then filed a petition for writ of certiorari. The...

Mount Aldie, LLC v. Land Trust of Virginia, Inc.  
Date: March 2, 2017
Docket Number: 160305

Justia Opinion Summary: The predecessor in title to Mount Aldie, LLC (MA) conveyed a conservation easement to Land Trust of Virginia, Inc. (LTV) covering a sixty-acre tract of land. The easement designated a 100-foot-wide strip of property runn...

Francis v. National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts & Sciences, Inc.  
Date: February 23, 2017
Docket Number: 160267

Justia Opinion Summary: Appellant filed suit against Appellee, her former employer, alleging wrongful discharge in violation of public policy under Bowman v. State Bank of Keysville. The trial court sustained Appellee’s demurrer, which alleged...

Forest Lakes Community Ass’n, Inc. v. United Land Corp. of America  
Date: February 16, 2017
Docket Number: 151779

Justia Opinion Summary: 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 ow...

The Funny Guy, LLC v. Lecego, LLC  
Date: February 16, 2017
Docket Number: 160242

Justia Opinion Summary: The Funny Guy, LLC sued Lecego, LLC, claiming that it was not paid for work it did for Lecego. Funny Guy alleged that Lecego had agreed to pay approximately ninety-seven percent of the fees claimed in an attempt to resol...

Ricketts v. Strange  
Date: February 16, 2017
Docket Number: 160311

Justia Opinion Summary: 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 dire...

Oprisko v. Director  
Date: February 9, 2017
Docket Number: 151450

Justia Opinion Summary: Defendant moved to suppress the fruits of the search that led to his arrest on the ground that the probable cause for the search was provided by the warrantless use of a drug-sniffing dog in violation of the Fourth Amend...

Jones v. Commonwealth  
Date: February 2, 2017
Docket Number: 131385

Justia Opinion Summary: Defendant entered an Alford guilty plea to capital murder and other related charges. The trial court imposed a life sentence pursuant to the plea agreement plus a sixty-eight-year term of incarceration on the remaining c...

Mayr v. Osborne  
Date: February 2, 2017
Docket Number: 151985

Justia Opinion Summary: 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 h...

Lindsey v. Commonwealth  
Date: January 19, 2017
Docket Number: 151111

Justia Opinion Summary: After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of petit larceny, third or subsequent offense. Defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in giving Instruction 16 to the jury rather than Instruction O, Defenda...

Gilliam v. Immel  
Date: January 19, 2017
Docket Number: 151944

Justia Opinion Summary: 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...

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