Virginia Venue: Not as Easy as it Used to Be

Virginia code amendments since 2004 limit Plaintiff “venue-shopping” as they align venue options with the common sense view that a lawsuit should be filed where the underlying action occurred.

By: Jim Snyder

If you ask a non-lawyer where the common sense venue would be for bringing a lawsuit, most would tell you the court in the city or county where the action occurred. But in Virginia, there have long been other options. Historically, one focuses on the business activities of a defendant.

Plaintiff attorneys frequently file in traditionally plaintiff-friendly verdicts, regardless of the appropriateness of the forum. If the accident did not happen in the chosen forum and the defendant does not live in the chosen forum, the fall back for plaintiffs is the defendant’s alleged “substantial business activity.” By attacking, what is often, a tenuous link between a case and the forum and the lack of substantial business activity, we can transfer the case into a more conservative venue, immediately driving down the value of the claim.

Until 2004, Virginia Code §8.01-262 provided that a permissible venue in which to file suit was where the defendant regularly conducted affairs or business activity. In addition to where a defendant worked, the most obvious choice here, this led to such inquiries of a defendant as to where they shopped, went to church, visited friends, passed through on the interstate, volunteered or socialized. As a practical matter, the choice a plaintiff had available for forums in which to file suit were greatly expanded through unrelated, often inconsequential, activities.

In 2004, the Code was amended, to change “regularly conducts affairs or business activity” to “regularly conducts substantial business activity.” The signal from the General Assembly was clear – require a greater connection between the defendant and the forum where suit

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Traumatic Brain Injury: Beating Back Over-inflated Claims

By: Jim Snyder

TBIs have become the modern day whiplash. Increasingly, we see claimed head injuries and alleged traumatic brain injuries as often as classic soft tissue injuries. It used to be, when we received a rear-end case to defend, we knew the claim would involve upper back and neck sprains/strains. Now, when a case lands in our office, chances are good the plaintiff is going to make some claim of brain dysfunction as a result of the accident. Whether it is a severe collision with obvious head trauma or a parking lot bump where the plaintiff barely nods, we know TBI will likely be an issue somewhere down the road.

During a two month stretch this past summer, our team aggressively attacked and resolved four such cases (see our infographic above). Each case was grossly over-inflated and the defense needed to be aggressive. Used collectively, these three strategies dramatically

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Defending Your Negligent Entrustment Case

By: Megan Watson

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McCandlish Holton Attorney Successfully Defended Automobile Accident Case

 On April 2, 2018, McCandlish Holton attorney Walker Terry successfully defended an automobile accident case in Hanover County Circuit Court.  The plaintiff was a passenger in the client’s vehicle and filed suit against both the client and the other driver involved in the collision.  Liability and damages were strongly contested.  The one-day jury trial included testimony from numerous lay and expert witnesses, including medical providers and a professional engineer. Terry prevailed, as the jury found for the plaintiff, but only as against the other driver. 

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