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No Richmond venue for Staunton lawyer

Lawyers from points beyond Richmond can breathe a sigh of relief.

An occasional appearance before a local court or state agency does not mean the lawyer can be haled into court before a famously generous Richmond jury.

Staunton lawyer Boyce E. Brannock, sued in Richmond Circuit Court, managed to get the legal malpractice action transferred to Staunton Circuit Court. The plaintiff in the suit claimed venue was proper in Richmond, based on the nature of the legal practice carried on by the defendant and his law firm.

One of Brannock’s law partners acknowledged that 40 percent of his practice was workers’ comp, and said he visited Richmond at times to appear before the Workers’ Comp Commission or the Court of Appeals. But mostly he went to the commission’s regional offices in Harrisonburg or Winchester.

Richmond Circuit Court Judge Melvin R. Hughes tallied the firm’s other Richmond appearances around the time suit was filed on Nov. 7, 2008, and counted: no appearances in Richmond Circuit Court, two appearances in federal court, one in the Virginia Supreme Court, three before administrative agencies, four association meetings, one CLE and five golden rings (er, depositions).

None of this coming-and-going amounted to the regular conduct of substantial business activity in Richmond, under Va. Code § 8.01-262(3), Hughes said. On March 10, Hughes ruled for defendant that the case of Duncan v. Brannock should be heard in Staunton.
By Deborah Elkins

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