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Judge Robert J. Smith

Sep 11, 2023

Damages awarded for ‘lollipopped’ trees

Where contractors that defendants hired trespassed onto plaintiffs’ property and trimmed pine tree limbs, plaintiffs are entitled to $26,800 in damages. This represents the diminished value of the real estate after the trees were removed, and the aesthetic value of the trees “as a sight and sound barrier,” along with the cost to remove the […]

Aug 21, 2023

Court awards $26,800 for ‘lollipopped’ trees

The Fairfax County Circuit Court has awarded a Vienna couple $26,800 in damages stemming from a trespass claim against their neighbors.

Feb 4, 2023

Respondent gets proceeds in condemnation case

Where the parties settled their condemnation dispute, the settlement funds should be paid to respondent or its attorney, and not the clerk of the court. Overview “Petitioner Commissioner of Highways … filed a condemnation action in connection with the Elden Street widening project in the Town of Herndon. Petitioner filed a Certificate of Take with […]

Feb 4, 2023

Plaintiff lacks standing to sue for undue influence

Where plaintiff was not the personal representative of the decedent’s estate, he lacks standing to sue his sister for undue influence, unjust enrichment and breach of fiduciary duty. His fraud claim, however, goes forward. His request for an accounting is granted. Overview Susan Forbes, John B. Forbes and Chip Forbes are heirs to the decedent, […]

Oct 31, 2022

Facility dog approved in sex crimes case

Where the commonwealth moved to have a facility dog accompany the complaining witness when she testifies at a sex crimes trial, the motion is granted because the dog “qualifies as a facility dog,” the dog’s “use will aid the witness in providing her testimony” and the dog “will neither interfere with nor distract from the […]

May 9, 2022

Commissioner of accounts properly conducted hearing

The commissioner of accounts properly held a hearing regarding a conservator’s accounting of the decedent’s estate, even though the information prompting the hearing came from a disinterested party. Background Kishna Minor was appointed conservator of Eric Witt Wilder, her incapacitated grandfather. A condition of the appointment required her to post a $1.2 million bond. Wilder […]

Dec 20, 2021

Signature requirement to will codicil excused

Even though the testator did not sign a codicil to his will, clear and convincing extrinsic evidence shows that he intended to add to, or change his will. Overview Asmuth, the decedent, signed his will on Oct. 17, 2018. On Oct. 18, he wrote a document purporting to be a codicil to his will. However, […]

Dec 6, 2021

No preliminary injunction in noncompete contract case

Even though the parties’ non-competition contract is enforceable on its face against defendant, who is plaintiff’s former employee, plaintiff is denied a preliminary injunction because it has not shown irreparable harm or that the equities tip in its favor. Background Plaintiff, Zachary Piper, LLC (ZP Group), is a cybersecurity firm that employed defendant Popelka as […]

Dec 6, 2021

No preliminary injunction in non-compete case

A non-compete between a recruiting company and its former senior talent acquisition manager is enforceable, but the company lost its bid for a preliminary injunction because it failed to show all four necessary elements, a Fairfax Circuit judge has ruled. Plaintiffs seeking a preliminary injunction must prove that they are likely to succeed on the […]

Aug 30, 2021

Tax liability payment was not condition precedent

Where a buyer paid the seller an estimated amount of the seller’s tax liability arising from the sale, and the contract provided that either party would pay the other the difference between the estimate and the actual tax liability as applicable, the sellers cannot sue for breach of contract when the buy refused to pay […]

May 25, 2021

Interest accrued on judgment during appeal

Where plaintiff prevailed on her claim that she was a beneficiary of her ex-husband’s life insurance policy, interest is due on the policy proceeds while the matter was on appeal. However, the letter of credit defendants posted as security for the appeal will not be released to plaintiff. Overview Plaintiff Martin sought a declaratory judgment […]

Apr 9, 2021

Defamation claims related to COVID-19 tests go forward

Where a pharmaceutical company sued a newspaper for claims arising from an article about COVID-19 home testing, the newspaper’s demurrer to defamation claims is overruled. Demurrers to claims against the paper’s executives in their personal capacity the paper’s parent companies are sustained as is a claim for tortious interference with a business expectancy. Background “Spring […]

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