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Dec 2, 2021

Libel defendant sanctioned for failing to preserve documents

Where a defendant sued for making allegedly defamatory statements about the plaintiff — a counter-protestor who posted video of the “Unite the Right” rallies in Charlottesville — failed to preserve potentially relevant documents, the plaintiff was entitled to an adverse jury instruction. Background This is a defamation case arising out of the “Unite the Right” […]

Nov 8, 2021

Adverse inference warranted for failure to preserve evidence

Where a defendant sued for his alleged role in the “Unite the Right” rally failed to preserve a laptop, two cell phones and three social media accounts, an adverse inference instruction at trial was warranted. Background This matter is before the court on plaintiffs’ renewed request for evidentiary sanctions against Matthew Heimbach. After plaintiffs first […]

Sep 6, 2021

No sanctions despite no preservation of documents

Where a defendant had a duty to preserve relevant documents and failed to do so, because there was no evidence he willfully destroyed evidence, no sanctions were imposed. Background In 2018, Ronald Scearce, then a member of the Pittsylvania County Department of Social Services Board and others in the community, waged a public campaign against […]

Aug 30, 2021

Ex-school employee barred from filing more suits

Where the record showed the former Richmond city school employee brought several lawsuits intended to harass their targets, she cannot file any more suits against them unless a judge first finds they have merit. Background This matter comes before the court on a motion for sanctions filed by Harman, Claytor, Corrigan & Wellman and Harman […]

Aug 4, 2021

Lawyer sanctioned for not pulling libel claim

Where an attorney refused to withdraw his client’s libel complaint despite being told the challenged communication was absolutely privileged, he and his client are liable for the $33,875 in attorneys’ fees. Background On May 5, 2021, the court orally granted defendant Stefan A. Halper’s motion for sanctions, dismissed this suit asserting claims for defamation and […]

Jun 29, 2021

Spoliation nets fee award of nearly $97K

Where a software provider in a contract dispute over an agreement to provide services found CarMax allowed potentially relevant information to be wiped from laptops, thus depriving the software provider of discovery, it was awarded $96,975.70 in attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in preparing its successful sanctions motion. Background Plaintiff alleged that defendant wiped clean […]

May 7, 2021

Spoliation of evidence prompts dismissal

Where an insurer was told that evidence from a fire needed to be preserved so the electrical company could conduct an inspection, but the insurer allowed the premises to be destroyed two months before the claim was made against the electrical company, resulting in prejudice to it, the insurer’s claims were dismissed as a sanction. […]

Apr 26, 2021

Divorce lawyer sanctioned for violating stay

A lawyer who sought to keep a divorce case from going dormant after the opposing party filed for bankruptcy has been hit with $6,050 in sanctions by a Richmond bankruptcy judge who concluded the actions of the lawyer and his client were in “flagrant disregard” of the automatic stay. The sanctions ordered by U.S. Bankruptcy […]

Apr 16, 2021

Willful noncompliance brings adverse inference

Where a man sued for his alleged role in the “Unite the Right” rallies repeatedly failed to produce relevant information and documents going to the heart of the plaintiffs’ conspiracy claims, his conduct prejudiced the plaintiffs and he demonstrated that he would not obey orders even under threat of civil contempt, arrest and detention, an […]

Apr 1, 2021

Reference to mediation in filing not sanctionable

Although the defendant made statements about mediation proceedings in a public filing opposing the plaintiff’s motion for leave to file another amended complaint, because the statements were broad, sufficiently general and referred to information already ascertainable from the public docket, no sanctions were imposed. Background Plaintiffs initiated this action alleging claims under the Real Est[...]

Feb 22, 2021

Senator sanctioned as counsel in franchise suit

State Sen. Chap Petersen and his litigation client together have been sanctioned for filing what a judge termed a “speculative” lawsuit over business losses by a franchisee. Retired Circuit Judge Joseph J. Ellis – sitting in Fairfax County – ordered Petersen and his client to pay more than $54,000 in attorneys’ fees to the other […]

Jan 18, 2021

Dealership whacked $213K in sanctions

The owner of an Audi dealership in Arlington has been ordered to pay sanctions of $213,196.95 amid accusations of bad faith in its litigation against a former employee. Fairfax County Circuit Judge Dontaè L. Bugg denied a motion to reconsider his ruling in a Dec. 20 order laying out the bases for his sanctions award. […]

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