Category: Local Government, Public Entity and Nonprofit


Virginia Creates Duty to Preserve Potential Evidence

April 12, 2019 | by: Laura Lee Miller | Leave a Comment

On March 21, 2019, Governor Northam signed Senate Bill 1619 into law, changing what remedies are available to a court faced with a potential litigant or a party who has recklessly deprived another party of evidence. The new statute provides: A party or potential litigant has a duty to preserve evidence that may be relevant to reasonably foreseeable litigation. In determining whether and at what point such a duty to preserve arose, the court shall include in its consideration the totality of the circumstances, including the extent to which a party or potential litigant was on notice that specific and … Continue reading

Supreme Court of Virginia Upholds Sovereign Immunity and Fortifies At-Will Employment Doctrine

June 17, 2016 | by: HCCW | Leave a Comment

On June 2, 2016, the Supreme Court of Virginia decided two important cases for local governments and employers.  George Somerville, of Harman Claytor, filed amicus briefs in support of the prevailing parties – one upholding a plea of public employee sovereign immunity and the other rejecting an argument that an employer must provide an employee advance notice of termination. In Pike v. Hagaman, Record No. 151193, the Supreme Court held that a nurse employed by VCU was entitled to sovereign immunity.  The defendant, Hagaman, is a nurse in the Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit at VCU Medical Center.  The plaintiff “underwent … Continue reading

Fourth Circuit Holds That The Accidental Disclosure of Medical Records on the Internet Triggered Duty to Defend

April 14, 2016 | by: Rob Friedman | Leave a Comment

In Travelers Indemnity Company of America v. Portal Healthcare Solutions, LLC, the Fourth Circuit recently affirmed a federal district court’s determination that a class action lawsuit arising out of a medical records safekeeping firm’s alleged failure to safeguard confidential medical records triggered an insurer’s duty to defend under a policy that afforded coverage for damages arising out of “electronic publication of material that… gives unreasonable publicity to a person’s private life” or the “electronic publication of material that… discloses information about a person’s private life” (the specific policy language changed at renewal, but the court found them materially identical). In the … Continue reading

Is the Demurrer Officially Dead In Negligence Cases?

January 14, 2014 | by: HCCW | Leave a Comment

It is increasingly difficult for defendants to win at the demurrer stage in negligence cases in Virginia.  A recent Virginia Supreme Court decision further eviscerated the power of the demurrer and confirmed the Court’s apparent change in direction on this issue, away from the requirement that Plaintiffs must allege proximate cause and toward an interpretation of Rule 3:18 that allows facts tantamount to res ipsa loquitur to survive demurrer. In Patel v. Williamsburg Indoor Sports Complex, LLC et. al., Record No. 130237, November 22, 2013, the Supreme Court of Virginia reversed the trial court’s grant of the defendant’s demurrer without … Continue reading

Officer’s Apprehension of Suspect After Chase Did Not Involve “Use” of Either’s Vehicle

April 20, 2010 | by: HCCW | Leave a Comment

Harman, Claytor, Corrigan and Wellman is pleased to announce that, on April 15, 2010, the Virginia Supreme Court rendered a decision in favor of the firm’s client, the Virginia Municipal Liability Pool, in the case of Simpson v. Virginia Mun. Liab. Pool, ___ Va. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___, 2010 WL 1491414 (Va. 2010). This case posed the interesting question of whether a police officer and a suspect were “using” their motor vehicles for purposes of automobile insurance coverage. After a high-speed chase, the officer had stepped approximately 10 feet away from his vehicle to confront the suspect, who had also … Continue reading