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Circuit court won’t play name game

In a state that’s fond of nicknames, family names and compound names, how much latitude does a car-crash plaintiff get when she scrambles the defendant’s first and middle names?

None, according to an Albemarle County Circuit Court.

The plaintiff’s lawsuit listed “Maggie Walker” as the defendant. Her correct name was “Ann Maggie,” or “Ann Margaret Walker” to you.

When the plaintiff attempted service on Walker, it was returned “refused wrong name.” The plaintiff said the name mix-up was a “pure misnomer,” like a mere misspelling.

Showing a more nuanced perception, Judge Cheryl V. Higgins found that “the name Ann Margaret Walker” was a different name from “Margaret Walker.” On Feb. 25, 2010, she refused to reconsider her decision that the lawsuit in Snow v. Walker (VLW 010-8-045) was barred.

By Deborah Elkins

One comment

  1. If the case is appealed to the Supreme Court of Virginia, I think it will be reversed in a heartbeat. This is about as clear a textbook case of misnomer as I’ve ever seen.

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