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Supreme Court to hear appeal of suit refiled with damage increase

The Supreme Court of Virginia has agreed to hear an appeal of a Loudoun County case that prompted personal injury lawyers to square off on the issue of asking for more damages when refiling after a nonsuit.

On April 1, the high court granted a writ in the Loudoun County case, Spear v. Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Judge James H. Chamblin dismissed plaintiff Elaine Spear’s suit against MWAA because her refiled action increased the ad damnum – from $325,000 to $500,000. Chamblin reasoned that the bump up in damages made the refiled suit a different cause of action.

Defense lawyers went on the alert, filing Spear-based motions in other locales, and plaintiff’s lawyers moved to lock down what they said was the prevailing rule before Spear, which would allow the change.

Northern Virginia lawyers Robert T. Hall and Leon S. Demsky represent Spear, and Joseph W. Santini, of Washington, D.C., represents MWAA.

By Deborah Elkins

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