November 29, 2020

Volume X, Number 334


New Laws Impacting Virginia Litigators, Part 1

As of July 1, all the legislation passed in the last session of the Virginia General Assembly and approved by the Governor goes into effect. I want to highlight what I believe to be the most relevant changes for Virginia litigators. Below is the first of two lists that summarize the bills, along with providing a link to the actual language in the laws.

Action for rescission of a deed or other instrument due to undue influence; attorney fees—VA Code § 8.01-221.2 (House Bill 312)In any civil action to rescind a deed, contract, or other instrument, the court may award to the plaintiff reasonable attorney fees and costs associated with bringing such action where the court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that the deed, contract, or other instrument was obtained by fraud or undue influence on the part of the defendant.

Suit for personal injury; report from health care provider licensed outside of the Commonwealth—VA Code § 16.1-88.2 amended (House Bill 394/Senate Bill 114) — In a personal injury suit tried in a general district court or appealed to the circuit court, either party may present evidence of the injury, treatment, and cost through a report from a health care provider licensed outside of the Commonwealth for his treatment of the plaintiff outside of the Commonwealth.

Amendment of amount due on summons for unlawful detainer—VA Code § 8.01-126 amended (House Bill 596)When a defendant fails to appear in an unlawful detainer hearing, upon request by the plaintiff and a determination by the court as to the accuracy of the amount due and that the summons served upon the defendant requests judgment for all amounts due as of the date of the hearing, the court shall permit amendment of the amount requested on the summons for unlawful detainer filed in court and shall enter a judgment for such amount due as of the date of the hearing.

Protection of confidential information in court files—VA Code § 8.01-420.8 added (House Bill 952)Whenever a party in a civil action files a motion or other document with a court containing a social security number or other identification numbers on driver’s licenses, credit cards, debit cards, bank accounts, or other electronic billing and payment systems, such party shall make reasonable efforts to redact all but the last four digits of such number. Failure to redact such information does not create a private cause of action against the party or lawyer who filed the document or any court personnel, clerk, or other employees who received the document for filing.

Statute of limitations; damage to property; actions by the Commonwealth—VA Code § 8.01-243 amended (House Bill 969)Establishes a five year statute of limitations for actions for injury to property brought by the Commonwealth against a tort-feasor for expenses arising out of the negligent operation of a motor vehicle.

Medical reports as evidence in general district court—VA Code § 16.1-88.2 amended (House Bill 1037)A medical report from a treating or examining health care provider may be admitted into evidence in a civil action for personal injuries or to resolve a dispute with an insurance company or health care provider in general district court or in an appeal to circuit court, so long as such report is accompanied by a sworn statement from the custodian of such report stating that the report is a true and accurate copy of the report. Currently, the report may only be admitted if it is accompanied by a sworn statement of the treating or examining health care provider.

Local Rules—VA Code § 8.01-4 amended (House Bill 1038)Regarding local rules, no civil matter shall be dismissed with prejudice by any district or circuit court for failure to comply with any rule prescribed by that district or circuit court.

© 2020 Odin, Feldman & Pittleman, P.C.National Law Review, Volume IV, Number 178



About this Author

Odin, Feldman & Pittleman’s Litigation attorneys have successfully tried thousands of cases over more than four decades. This significant experience, which distinguishes us from other firms, is in all aspects of litigation: trials, appeals, mediation, and arbitration. Our litigators enjoy an excellent reputation in all local, state, and federal courts in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, as well as in state and federal courts throughout the United States.

Our litigators include several former prosecutors and law clerks from...