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Judge Lawrence R. Leonard

Jun 11, 2023

Driver liable for more than $266K in damages

Where a driver engaged in willful and wanton negligence when she drove between 76-81 mph on a 45mph road during a morning commute before hitting a pregnant woman’s car and injuring her minor son, the injured woman was awarded more than $266,000 to compensate her for her medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress and […]

Mar 13, 2023

Late answer allowed in declaratory judgment suit

Where a man failed to timely respond to a complaint seeking a declaration his automobile liability insurer owed him no duty with respect to an accident, but he may have meritorious defenses to the claims, acted promptly after learning about the default, was reasonably confused about whether he was being afforded a defense, had no […]

Nov 22, 2022

Res judicata doesn’t bar attorney’s fees claim

Where two debt collectors argued an attorney’s fees claim brought by a consumer was barred by res judicata, but they failed to show that the prior dismissal was a judgment on the merits, and the prior litigation did not involve the same conduct, occurrence or transaction, the res judicata arguments were rejected. Background In this […]

Oct 9, 2022

Work environment wasn’t racially hostile

Where a manager allegedly asked why Black girls wore wigs, said that one employee’s wig looked matted and dirty, and used the word “colored,” those alleged statements did not rise to the level of severity necessary to alter the terms and conditions of plaintiff’s employment. The employer was granted summary judgment on the hostile work […]

Aug 23, 2022

Correctional facilities expert may testify in death suit

Where correctional officers were sued for their alleged role in the death of a detainee, an expert on correctional facilities may testify about the standard of care and his opinion that the officers breached the duties they owed to the detainee. Background Emmanuel Bynum and Joel Guy are correctional officers at the correctional facility where […]

May 12, 2022

Plaintiffs can’t testify as experts in own suit

Where two men filed suit over their interaction with security at Busch Gardens amusement park and planned to testify as experts on security personnel conduct in their own case, they were precluded from doing so because their disclosures were deficient and they lacked experience and training. Background Plaintiffs filed a five-count complaint against defendants arising […]

Sep 13, 2021

Muslim teacher alleges hostile work environment

Where a Muslim teacher alleged she was subject to mandatory Christian prayers and other proselytizing, despite requests that such efforts cease; was repeatedly called a “radical Islamic terrorist” and her repeated complaints were ignored, she plausibly alleged a claim for a religious hostile work environment.

May 6, 2021

Lawyer’s failure to meet dooms part of fee claim

Where the plaintiff’s attorney failed to meet and confer regarding Walmart’s failure to respond to certain interrogatories before filing his motion to compel, he violated Fed. R. Civ. P.37 (a) and E.D. Va. Local Civil Rule 37(E). Although the requested discovery was provided after the motion to compel was filed, suggesting it was meritorious, attorneys’ […]

Jan 29, 2021

No signature, no binding settlement 

Although a man injured while shopping at Walmart agreed to settle his negligence claim for $20,000, because Walmart required execution of a settlement agreement as a material term, and no agreement was ever executed, there was no binding settlement.  Background Michael Hairston filed an amended complaint March 8, 2019, asserting he had been injured while […]

Jan 22, 2021

Store sanctioned for not preserving footage of slip/fall

Where a Kroger’s security camera recorded portions of a customer’s slip and fall but failed to preserve the footage, multiple sanctions were imposed, including that the store’s summary judgment motion was denied, the jury would be instructed regarding the lost video and the store was precluded from eliciting testimony about the video’s contents. Background Diane […]

Oct 12, 2020

Attorneys must pay fees incurred for motion to compel

Where a defendant was forced to file a motion to compel a credit report from a reporting agency after the plaintiff’s attorneys refused to consent to its production, the defendant was entitled to recover reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. Because the conduct was not attributable to the plaintiff but rather to her attorneys, they are […]

May 14, 2020

Claiming advice of counsel waives privilege

Where defendants raised advice of counsel as an affirmative defense to a suit alleging they improperly classified their employees, and where they made selective production of documents and produced their attorney for a deposition, they waived attorney-client privilege as to relevant communications. They were ordered to produce all withheld communications, but were not otherwise sanctioned. [&helli[...]

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