Undaunted by a unanimous opinion from the Supreme Court of Virginia last month in Isbell v. Commercial Investment Associates Inc. (VLW 007-7-044), Richmond attorney Roger T. Creager has asked the court to rehear the case, and the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the request.
The Supreme Court held that the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act does not create a personal injury action for damages to tenants that result from violations of the act by landlords. The General Assembly did not clearly abrogate the common law that a landlord is not liable in tort for injuries caused by the landlord’s failure to repair premises under the tenant’s control, Justice Cynthia D. Kinser wrote. She said the act applies only to contractual remedies.
The briefs of Creager and the VTLA contend that the court erred in writing the word “contract” to restrict provisions of the act where the legislature expressed no such limitation. The court also incorrectly gave a narrow interpretation of such words as “action” and “person” to limit the declared legislative intent to “revise and modernize” the law, the briefs say.