Recent Virginia & Federal Cases

School Board v. Commonwealth 02/25/2010 In a petition by a school board against the Commonwealth, alleging breach of contractual duty under the Virginia Local Government Risk Management Plan to defend and indemnify the board for educational and legal expenses awarded in administrative proceedings and an ensuing federal civil action to a child’s parents who alleged that the school board failed to provide educational services as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), the trial court erred in failing to find coverage for these expenses available to the school board under the Plan. The IDEA proceeding involved a federal civil action, which was a “claim” for compensatory monetary damages under the Plan and was not excluded as an administrative action. The Commonwealth breached its contractual duty to defend under the Plan and is therefore liable for the litigation costs associated with the defense of the parents’ claim in federal court, as well as the costs of prosecuting the contract claim in the Virginia circuit court, this present appeal, and on remand. The judgment is reversed and the case is remanded for entry of judgment in favor of the school board, including the costs associated with the Commonwealth’s breach of its duty to defend.

Lewis v. C.J. Langenfelder & Son 10/31/2003 Because removal of an action from state court to federal court effects a transfer of the entire case, this Court has no jurisdiction to hear an appeal from dismissal of a claim filed in Virginia circuit court under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. 688, but which the trial court dismissed prior to removal of the action. The appeal is dismissed without prejudice.

Adams v. Alliant Techsystems 04/20/2001 In response to certified questions of law from a federal district court, it is held that the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act does not bar a plaintiff from bringing a common-law action to recover damages for hearing loss resulting from cumulative trauma if the claim accrued during the period in which such hearing loss was not a compensable injury or disease under the Act, and that pursuing a claim before the Commission in the first instance is not required.

Downer v. CSX Transportation Inc. 11/06/1998 In a Federal Employers’ Liability Act case against an oil company and an employer, in which the employee alleged that he was injured when the defendants negligently exposed him to noxious chemicals at the oil company’s refinery, the trial court did not err in reducing the jury award against the employer by the amount the employee had been paid by the oil company in settlement of his claim against it, in accordance with Code 8.01-35.1(A)(1), and that judgment is affirmed.

Straessle v. Air Line Pilots Ass’n 04/18/1997 Applying Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b), a federal district court order which dismissed the plaintiff’s claim against the defendant is not a final judgment. Full faith and credit will not be extended to a federal district court’s order which is not final and which would not have any res judicata effect in federal proceedings. The trial court judgment is reversed and the case remanded.

Balbir Brar Inc. v. Consolidated Trading 11/01/1996 Since an examination of separate federal and state proceedings reveals that there is no underlying thread of evidentiary similarity between the litigants’ federal and state claims, the trial court erred in ruling that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 13(a) bars a litigant who failed to assert a counterclaim in the federal proceeding from pursuing its claims in the state proceeding. The judgment of the trial court is reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings.