Articles Posted in Virginia Supreme Court

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A limited liability company (MIC) was formed for the purpose of building and operating a hotel. The original members of MIC were a revocable trust (the Trust), trustee Michael Siska, and Thomas, Jane, and Jason Dowdy. Later, Thomas and Jane Dowdy transferred, without the Trust's involvement, MIC's assets to Milestone Development, the Dowdy's family company. The Trust filed an amended complaint derivatively on behalf of MIC against Defendants, Milestone and the Dowdys. In its amended complaint, the Trust claimed that the transfer of assets to Milestone was not in the best interests of MIC or its members and alleging, inter alia, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, unlawful distribution, and conversion, and seeking to recover damages. The Trust, however, did not join MIC as a party to the derivative action. The circuit court dismissed the Trust's amended complaint, holding that the Trust lacked standing to maintain the derivative action on behalf of MIC because the Trust could not fairly represent the interests of the Defendant shareholders. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that it would not entertain the appeal on the merits because MIC was a necessary party to the proceeding and had not been joined. Remanded.

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Plaintiff Fox Rest Associates (Fox Rest) was formed to purchase Fox Rest Apartments. Defendants in this case were George Little, Fox Rest's legal counsel through his law firm, George B. Little and Associates (GBL&A), George Little's wife, and GBL&A. This action took place after Mr. Little sold the Apartments without knowledge of Fox Rest and transferred a portion of the proceeds from the sale in an account he held with Mrs. Little. Unable to satisfy a previous judgment finding Mr. Little and GLB&A liable to Fox Rest for, inter alia, malpractice and double billing, Fox Rest filed this action against Defendants, seeking to void various transactions by Mr. Little as fraudulent conveyances and voluntary conveyances. The court granted Defendants' motion to strike, finding that Fox Rest did not present sufficient evidence in its case in chief to establish a prima facie case for its claims. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that, except for a portion of the claims relating to the sale of certain equipment, the circuit court erred in striking Fox Rest's fraudulent conveyance and voluntary conveyance claims. Remanded.

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David McNeal was convicted in a bench trial in the circuit court for failing to return rented personal property within ten days after expiration of the rental period in violation of Va. Code Ann. 18.2-118. At trial, the store manager of the rental business testified that she rented an aluminum brake to McNeal on September 18, 2008, and after two or three months elapsed without McNeal returning the brake, she contacted the sheriff's office. On cross-examination, the store manager testified that the deputy returned the brake on September 19, 2008. The circuit court concluded that, considering all the evidence, the equipment was gone for two or three months on a week's rental, and thus the evidence was sufficient for a finding of guilt. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the conflicting evidence was insufficient as a matter of law to sustain McNeal's conviction. The Supreme Court reversed and reinstated McNeal's conviction, holding that the circuit court's judgment finding McNeal guilty was not plainly wrong or without evidence to support it. The Court concluded that the circuit court was entitled to consider all the evidence and to resolve the conflict in the evidence as it did.

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Brenda Britt obtained a new car from a car dealership after completing and signing, among other documents, a buyer's order and a retail installment sales contract. After failing to obtain financing for the sale of the car, the dealership repossessed and disposed of the vehicle without providing prior notice to Britt. Britt filed a warrant in debt against the dealership in the city general district court, alleging the dealership violated Article Nine of the UCC, which requires a secured party, after repossessing collateral, to provide the debtor with notice before disposing of the collateral. The district court and trial court both found in favor of Britt. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the dealership was a secured creditor and Britt a debtor under Article Nine. Therefore, the dealership failed to provide Britt the required notice of disposition following repossession required by Article Nine.