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Justice S. Bernard Goodwyn

Audience seated at public meeting
Jun 12, 2023

High court defines ‘public business’ under VFOIA

The Supreme Court of Virginia reversed the dismissal of a suit against members of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors alleged to have violated open meeting requirements under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, or VFOIA. In the wake of the George Floyd protests, board members attended a police Citizens Advisory Board, or CAB, […]

Jun 1, 2023

Board meeting did not fall within VFOIA exceptions

Where plaintiffs allege that five members of a county board of supervisors violated the Virginia Freedom of Information Act’s open meeting requirements when they attended a police Citizens Advisory Board, or CAB, meeting to discuss responses to riots in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, the gathering was a meeting within the meaning of the […]

Oct 31, 2022

Ex-board members were not ‘employers’

The definition of “employer” applicable to actions under Code § 40.1-29(J) for unpaid wages is narrower than the definition in the Virginia Minimum Wage Act, or VMWA, and the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Supreme Court of Virginia has held.  The plaintiffs sued for unpaid wages and named two members of their former employer’s board […]

Oct 23, 2022

No joint employer liability in unpaid wages case

Where employees sued for unpaid wages, two members of a newly formed board of directors who resigned before wages were withheld do not have joint employer liability for the unpaid wages. Overview Plaintiffs (clinicians) are licensed therapists who worked for Christian Psychotherapy Services. Their compensation was on a commission basis – a percentage of collected […]

Uprooted tree
Aug 1, 2022

No duty owed to man hurt by falling tree

A driver on a public way who was permanently disabled when a tree fell from private property couldn’t sue for his injuries, because the landowners had no duty to prevent the accident if they didn’t create the danger, the Supreme Court of Virginia has ruled. Allegations that the landowner had been “involved” in construction which […]

Jun 27, 2022

County’s demand for commuter route payments fails

The Virginia Supreme Court has affirmed a ruling that the establishment of a commuter route did not trigger a shopping center owner’s obligation to contribute $500,000 under a zoning proffer for public transportation. “The County’s argument that voluntary conditional proffers need not bear an essential nexus, nor be roughly proportional, to the impacts of the […]

Jun 10, 2022

Transit proffer cannot be enforced

Where a transit proffer agreement conditioned a landowner’s liability for payments upon the county extending public transportation to the landowner’s development project, the agreement cannot be enforced. Although the county extended public transportation, there is no nexus between the extension, which is currently operating as a commuter service, and the services the project provides. Further[...]

Feb 21, 2022

Stored tobacco not ‘used’ for tax statute purposes

Where a multistate corporation’s Virginia income is determined, in part, by the average value of real and tangible property owned and used in Virginia, a tobacco company’s storage and aging of leaf tobacco in Virginia warehouses is not “use” of the tobacco under the relevant tax statutes and regulations. Parsing the statute “The central question […]

Jan 24, 2022

Conspiracy conviction incorrectly reversed

Where appellant received drugs from another person to trade for an automobile, the circuit court properly refused to instruct the jury “regarding the single-buyer/seller relationship exception to conspiracy liability.” The deal Harris agreed with Wade via text messages to trade about 30 grams of methamphetamine for Wade’s Pontiac automobile. Harris did not know Wade was […]

Dec 13, 2021

Indemnity contract limits fees and costs award

Where the parties’ indemnity agreement capped payments at $4.9 million, the trial court’s award of more than $1 million in attorney fees and costs to the prevailing party, which exceeded the cap, is reversed. The prevailing party is awarded $24,999.94 in fees and costs, as limited by the payment cap. Overview Ehrhardt and others, the […]

Sep 30, 2021

Restrictive covenants cannot be enforced in statue removal case

The commonwealth has the authority to remove a state-owned monument from state owned property. The monument is a form of government speech. To the extent that the document conveying the property to the state and a legislative resolution accepting the property created restrictive covenants that purportedly bar the monument’s removal, public policy prevents enforcement of […]

Jul 20, 2021

Malicious prosecution claim reinstated

The trial court incorrectly granted defendants’ motion to strike plaintiff’s malicious prosecution claim after weighing the evidence and making findings of fact without viewing the evidence in a light favorable to plaintiff. Overview Appellant Dill was mistakenly identified as a shoplifter. She was charged but the case was dismissed with prejudice on the day of […]

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