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Judge Joel Hoppe

Mar 1, 2021

Reference to statute insufficient for jurisdiction

Although a former tenant asserting a wrongful eviction claim repeatedly referenced the landlord’s participation in the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, or LIHTC, program, his state-law claims did not turn on any embedded federal question, the complaint did not appear to contest the federal law’s requirements, any nexus to federal law was insubstantial and interests […]

Feb 5, 2021

Publisher must respond to discovery about profits

Where a counter protester at the “Unite the Right” rallies in Charlottesville, on Aug. 11 and 12, 2017, alleged the defendants defamed him on the internet, he was entitled to discovery into defendants’ profit motives for publishing statements that specifically concern the protester because such information could show actual malice..  Background This is a defamation […]

Dec 18, 2020

Facts and documents admitted as sanction for discovery abuse

Where a defendant who was sued for injuries during the “Unite the Right” rallies ignored discovery requests and court orders over 18 months, and attorneys’ fees had already been awarded as a sanction, additional sanctions were warranted, including that certain contested facts were deemed admitted, documents were presumed authentic and an adverse-inference instruction would be […]

Nov 2, 2020

Dueling personal injury suits consolidated

Where two lawsuits arose out of the same motor vehicle accident, have common parties and allege the same conduct against one another, consolidation avoided the risk of inconsistent adjudication; reduced burdens on the parties, witnesses and judicial resources; reduced the length of time required to resolve both actions, the relative expense and the possibility of […]

Oct 5, 2020

Amended complaint allowed despite seven-month delay

Although seven months elapsed before the plaintiff moved to amend its complaint to attempt to pierce the corporate veil, it was reasonable to use discovery to identify a factual basis for the claim. The amended complaint was allowed. Background Jared McLaughlin initially filed this action in the circuit court, alleging eight counts against Landmore Inc.; […]

Sep 21, 2020

Bank loses bid for remand of detainer action

Where the homeowner timely removed a lawsuit seeking to take possession of real property she formerly owned, there was complete diversity between the parties and the property was valued at more than $75,000, the bank’s motion to remand was denied. Background This is a dispute over a house in Basye. Plaintiff, U.S. Bank Trust National […]

Jul 9, 2020

Unite the Right defendant must provide access to social media accounts

After the Rule 30(b)(6) representative for the National Socialist Movement, or NSM, refused to comply with the plaintiffs’ counsel regarding discovery, he was ordered to produce social media accounts and passwords, as well as electronic devices that may contain potentially responsive documents. Background This matter is before the court on plaintiffs’ second motion to compel […]

Jul 9, 2020

Unite the Right defendant must respond to discovery requests

The defendant, who is serving a life sentence for the murder of Heather Heyer at the Charlottesville rally in 2017, was ordered to supplement his “deficient,” “evasive or incomplete” discovery responses and to provide login information for his social media accounts. Background Plaintiffs contend that defendant James Fields has refused to obey multiple court orders […]

Jul 1, 2020

Lawyers for Unite the Right defendant must answer subpoenas

Two attorneys who represented a defendant in state-court criminal proceedings related to a Unite the Right rally failed to quash subpoenas served on them by plaintiffs. The subpoenas did not seek privileged documents, did not require conduct in violation of the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct and were not contrary to court orders. Background Denise […]

Jun 25, 2020

Though repugnant, comments not threat of violence

Where the defendant’s online comment about the plaintiff’s counsel – that he and unidentified others are “going to have a lot of f—ing fun with her” after she “loses this fraudulent lawsuit” – were repugnant, they did not cross the line between protected speech and a true threat of physical violence. The plaintiff’s motion to […]

Jun 11, 2020

Access to court documents trumps improper motive

A non-party’s alleged improper motive in seeking to unseal more than 1,300 pages attached to a motion for summary judgment was insufficient to continue the sealing. The documents were unsealed with personal identifying and financial information redacted. Background On March 12, 2020, plaintiff RLI Insurance Company filed its motion for summary judgment, undisputed statement of […]

May 27, 2020

CEO’s lack of special knowledge exempts him from deposition

Where the CEO of an insurance company had no unique or special knowledge of the issues in a case involving the issuance of immigration bonds, and other witnesses likely had relevant knowledge that was not explored during discovery, the CEO did not have to appear for a deposition. Background This matter is before the court […]

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