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Supreme Court releases 18 opinions

The Supreme Court of Virginia handed down 18 decisions and two orders this morning. Full-text PDF copies of every case are also available on our Web site.

Here are some of the highlights:

A party can’t vouch for a decedent’s promise

It’s like a classic tale from your T&E class: Uncle dies and the aunt’s will fails to make good on their promise to leave the farm to their nephew-caretaker; in Virginia Home for Boys & Girls v. Phillips (VLW 010-6-015), the Supreme Court of Virginia applies the Deadman’s Statute and says with only circumstantial, not independent, corroboration of the kitchen-table promise, the estate goes to a children’s home.

Jurors still can’t own stock in a corporate party in a case

Although the interplay of state and federal law in Federal Employers’ Liability Act cases complicates the analysis, it’s still the law in Virginia jurors must be struck for cause if they own stock in a corporate party to a case. Failure of a trial court to do so is per se reversible error, the Supreme Court of Virginia holds today in Roberts v. CSX Transportation Inc. (VLW 010-6-011).

High court: Judge, get a proper record together or retry the case

The Supreme Court underscores the trial judge’s role in ensuring a proper record for appellate review in Shapiro v. Younkin (VLW 010-6-016). A Virginia Beach circuit judge wrongly dismissed a district court appeal based on the pro se plaintiff’s failure to hire a court reporter, the court holds. The court emphasizes that a new trial is the cure for an inadequate record.

Note to administrators of estates: Check what you were appointed to do

Administrators of estates can be appointed to pursue two types of claims for a dead person – wrongful death claims and survival actions for personal injury. A mother appointed to pursue only a wrongful death on behalf of her late son can’t bring claims for mental and physical harm, the Supreme Court has ruled in Antisdel v. Ashby (VLW 010-6-017).

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