Civil Remedies and Procedure


P HB37

Communications between physicians and patients. Provides that a diagnosis or treatment plan of the practitioner, as documented in the patient's medical record, during the time of the practitioner's treatment, may be disclosed in discovery or in testimony. Only diagnosis offered to a reasonable degree of medical probability will be admissable at trial.
Patron - Howell

P HB81

Remedy for arbitrary refusal of motor vehicle insurance claim. Increases the amount of claims for which the claimant can obtain a judgment for double damages if the insurer arbitrarily refuses the claim to $3,500. Currently only claims of less than $2,500 are eligible for double damages if arbitrarily refused.
Patron - Kilgore

P HB257

Appeal of interlocutory orders and decrees by permission. Provides that a party in a civil action may petition for an interlocutory appeal when, prior to the commencement of trial, a circuit court has entered in any pending civil action an order or decree that is not otherwise appealable. The appealing party must file with the circuit court a statement of the reasons why an immediate interlocutory appeal should be permitted on the basis that the order or decree involves a question of law as to which (i) there is substantial ground for difference of opinion, (ii) there is no clear, controlling precedent on point in the decisions of the appellate courts of Virginia, (iii) determination of the issue will be dispositive of a material aspect of the proceeding, and (iv) the court and the parties agree it is in the parties' best interest to seek an interlocutory appeal. Upon certification by the circuit court, a petition for appeal is filed with the appellate court that would have jurisdiction in an appeal from a final judgment.
Patron - McQuigg

P HB324

Civil liability for drug dealers. Creates a cause of action by which a drug dealer may be sued in tort by the parent or legal guardian of a child who used illegal drugs while under age 18. Recoverable damages include physical and emotional pain and suffering, and treatment, rehabilitation and medical expenses proximately caused by the unlawful use of a controlled substance.
Patron - Griffith

P HB326

Service of certain process on foreign or domestic corporations. Repeals § 8.01-302 of the Code so that general, rather than specific, rules regarding service on corporations are the only ones in effect. Section 8.01-302 provides that for service of process on corporations, process in attachment or garnishment proceedings, and notice by a creditor of judgment obtained and execution thereon may be served on an agent of a foreign or domestic corporation wherever the agent is found in the Commonwealth.
Patron - Griffith

P HB457

Compliance with criminal subpoena. Provides that when a criminal subpoena has been served on a person who is not a party to the action requiring the production of information that is stored in an electronic format, the person shall produce a tangible copy of the information. If a tangible copy cannot be produced, the person shall permit the parties to review the information on a computer or by electronic means during normal business hours, provided that the information can be accessed and isolated. If a tangible copy cannot reasonably be produced and the information is commingled with information other than that requested in the subpoena and cannot reasonably be isolated, the person may file a motion for a protective order or motion to quash.
Patron - Griffith

P HB500

Tort Claims Act; notice. Provides that notice of claim shall be deemed timely filed if it is sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to one of the appropriate parties and the official receipt for the notice shows the mailing was within the prescribed time limits.
Patron - Albo

P HB547

Virginia Prisoner Litigation Reform Act. Creates a statutory scheme that prisoners must follow in order to file pro se civil actions for money damages or for injunctive, declaratory or mandamus relief. In order to proceed with a suit the prisoner must pay full filing fees and costs unless granted in forma pauperis status; grant of in forma pauperis status would permit payment of filing fees and costs in installments as directed the court. If the prisoner has had no deposits in his inmate trust account for the six months preceding the filing of the action, prepayment of fees and costs are waived but will be taxed at the end of the case. In forma pauperis status must be denied if the prisoner has had three or more cases or appeals dismissed for being frivolous, malicious, or for failure to state a claim, unless the prisoner shows that he is in imminent danger of serious physical injury at the time of filing suit or it would be manifest injustice to deny such status. The prisoner's failure to state his claims in a written motion for judgment plainly stating facts sufficient to support his cause of action, accompanied by all necessary supporting documentation is grounds for dismissal. The court must rule on initial dispositive motions on the record whenever possible rather than holding a hearing. The prisoner may not seek discovery until initial dispositive motions are ruled upon, and then only when he can demonstrate to the court that his requests are relevant and material to the issues in the case.
Patron - Kilgore

P HB738

Limitations on enforcement of judgments in general district court. Makes it abundantly clear that the enforcement of judgments entered in the general district courts shall be 10 years, unless an abstract of such judgment is docketed in the judgment book of a circuit court. Upon the docketing of such judgment, the limitation for the enforcement of a district court judgment is the same as for a judgment of the circuit court, which is 20 years.
Patron - Barlow

P HB818

Alternative dispute resolution. Amends the general and court-referred mediation statutes to expand provisions regarding confidentiality and liability. The bill also redesignates the existing evaluation session as an orientation session and clarifies and provides detail to existing provisions. The bill also provides that a certified mediator shall be immune from civil liability while engaged in mediation unless the mediator acts in bad faith, with malicious intent or exhibits willful, wanton disregard for the rights of another.
Patron - Almand

P HB819

Identity of persons communicating anonymously over the Internet. Provides a procedure governing certain subpoenas in civil proceedings where it is alleged that an anonymous individual has engaged in tortious Internet communications. This bill is a recommendation of the Study on the Discovery of Electronic Data and has been endorsed by the Judicial Council.
Patron - Almand

P HB922

Exemplary damages for persons injured by intoxicated drivers. Provides that, for the purposes of finding a person liable for punitive damages in a civil lawsuit for injuries caused in an accident involving an intoxicated driver, it must be proven at the time the defendant began drinking alcohol or during the time he was drinking alcohol or when he was operating a motor vehicle he knew or should have known that his ability to operate a motor vehicle, engine or train would be impaired. The current requirement is that at the time the defendant was drinking he knew that he would be operating a motor vehicle.
Patron - Joannou

P HB923

Discovery of medical evidence at trial. Modifies current law provision that when the physical or mental condition of the patient is at issue in a civil action, facts communicated to, or otherwise learned by, such practitioner in connection with such attendance, examination or treatment shall be disclosed by a method other than discovery pursuant to the Rules of Court to provide that no order shall be entered compelling a party to sign a release for medical records from a health care provider unless the health care provider is located outside the Commonwealth or is a federal facility.
Patron - Joannou

P HB924

Exclusive original jurisdictional of general district courts. Raises the original jurisdictional amount of cases in the general district court from $3,000 to $4,500.
Patron - Joannou

P HB948

Immunity for volunteer fire and emergency medical services personnel. Adds a definition of "providing fire-fighting or emergency medical services."
Patron - Landes

P HB954

Inmates as witnesses. Allows the court to give the clerk or a deputy clerk of the circuit court the authority to issue transportation orders for inmates to appear in civil and criminal cases. This bill is identical to SB 650.
Patron - Barlow

P HB1001

Custody and visitation. Provides that in any case in which custody or visitation of a minor child is at issue, any information obtained during therapy and the records kept by any licensed mental health care provider concerning a parent shall be privileged and confidential. Additionally, a mental health care provider may not be required to testify on behalf of or against a parent or adult relative of the parent. The bill does not apply when an independent mental health evaluation is conducted pursuant to a court order.
Patron - McDonnell

P HB1185

Health care provider's records. Provides authorized insurers access to copies of a health care provider's records for a reasonable charge.
Patron - Kilgore

P HB1287

High constable. Provides that a high constable may execute a writ of possession for real and personal property and serve a capias or criminal show cause order.
Patron - Purkey

P SB17

Remedies; service of process. Provides that failure to make return of service of process within the required timeframe of 72 hours does not invalidate any service of process or any judgment based thereon. The bill also provides that in the event a late return prejudices a party or interferes with the court's administration of a case, the court may, in its discretion, continue the case, require additional or substitute service of process, or take such other action or enter such order as the court deems appropriate under the circumstances.
Patron - Colgan

P SB316

Civil law; immunity. Provides civil immunity for committee or board members, or consultants thereto, for functions related to patient safety, including entering into contracts with patient safety organizations. The bill also provides that reports or patient safety data in possession of a patient safety organization is confidential and that an employer may not retaliate against employees who make good faith reports to such organizations. As introduced, the bill was a recommendation of the Joint Commission on Health Care.
Patron - Stolle

P SB445

Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act; civil penalty. Establishes a cause of action for false claims for payments or reimbursements against the Commonwealth. The remedy includes a civil penalty of between $5,000 and $10,000 plus three times the amount of damages sustained by the Commonwealth. The Attorney General or a private citizen has standing to prosecute the case in the name of the Commonwealth.
Patron - Williams

P SB520

Workers' compensation; third party claims. Provides that when an employer has a subrogation interest in an employee's workers' compensation claim against a third party and the employer fails to consent to a settlement offer acceptable to the employee, the employee may petition the court (stating the compromise) where the action is pending for approval of the settlement. If no action is pending or the action is pending outside the Commonwealth, the petition may be filed in any circuit court in which venue lies as to the employee. The court may approve the settlement and after all appeals are exhausted and because the employer's subrogation interest has not been compromised, such approval is deemed consent to the settlement by the employer.
Patron - Mims

P SB541

Attorney-issued subpoenas. Authorizes attorneys to issue subpoenas for medical malpractice review panels and claims before the Workers' Compensation Commission cases. The bill also provides that the transmittal sheet is part of the pleadings. There are existing sanctions for improper pleadings, so the sentence requiring that the transmittal sheet be signed under penalty of perjury is removed. The bill deletes the requirement for payment of a five dollar clerk's fee for a subpoena duces tecum for medical records because the attorney is issuing the subpoena instead of the clerk. This bill is a recommendation of the Boyd-Graves Conference.
Patron - Mims

P SB546

Garnishment. Provides that a garnishee has no liability to the judgment creditor for failing to deliver the judgment debtor's property, other than earnings, if the summons does not contain sufficient or accurate information to enable the garnishee to reasonably identify the judgement debtor. If the summons contains either the social security number or taxpayer identification number or the name and address of the judgment debtor as they appear in the records of the garnishee, the summons is deemed to contain information sufficient to reasonably identify the property, and the garnishee shall answer the summoning court and send the judgment debtor a copy of its answer to the court.
Patron - Mims

P SB555

Business damages. Provides that damages for lost profit of a new or unestablished business may be recoverable even though no history of profits can be established.
Patron - Stosch

P SB650

Inmates as witnesses. Allows the court to give the clerk or a deputy clerk of the circuit court the authority to issue transportation orders for inmates to appear in civil and criminal cases.
Patron - Rerras


F HB120

Category A venue; action against a school board. Provides that in an action involving a vehicle owned or operated by a school board, venue lies in either the jurisdiction in which the school board is located or where the accident occurred.
Patron - Janis

F HB537

Remedies; legal notice. Requires that in order for a legal notice published in a newspaper to meet the statutory standard, it must be published in the Commonwealth of Virginia. A newspaper shall be deemed published in the Commonwealth if it maintains its principal office in the Commonwealth for the purposes of gathering news, soliciting advertisements and determining the newspaper's form and content, and if it is printed in the Commonwealth.
Patron - Devolites

F HB583

Limited liability of railroad corporations. Provides that in any suit for personal injuries, a railroad corporation is not liable for damages to a third party if it is determined that a defendant, other than the railroad corporation, failed to stop at a railroad crossing.
Patron - Ingram

F HB636

Respondeat superior. Provides that in any civil suit for damages in which an employer is alleged liable for the acts of his employee, the employer is liable for the tortious act of his employee if the employee was performing his employer's business and acting within the scope of his employment.
Patron - O'Brien

F HB673

Remedies; service of process. Eliminates the distinction between personal service and substitute service, and includes new forms of process that are to be recognized as valid services of process.
Patron - Watts

F HB703

Communications between physicians and patients. Provides that when the physical or mental condition of the patient is at issue in a civil action, a treating physician may testify to any conclusions he may have that are based upon his training, education, experience and observation of the patient's condition. Under current law, a physician may only testify regarding facts, which has created some confusion in the various courts of the Commonwealth. This bill allows the physician to state his conclusions without testifying to pure opinions. This bill is incorporated into HB 37.
Patron - Armstrong

F HB777

Domestic case guardian ad litem. Provides that if a guardian ad litem is appointed to represent the interests of a child or children in divorce/custody cases originating in the circuit court, the guardian's expenses and fees shall be paid by the Commonwealth.
Patron - Albo

F HB852

Vacating an award under Uniform Arbitration Act. Allows a court to award reasonable attorney's fees in an application to vacate or confirm an arbitration award.
Patron - Albo

F HB1207

Appeal bonds. Provides that no appeal bond is necessary upon appeal for a finding of civil contempt in the juvenile and domestic relations district court.
Patron - Melvin

F SB292

Limitation of civil lawsuits by prisoners. Creates a statutory scheme that prisoners must follow in order to file any suit related to their confinement. The bill substantially limits prisoners' ability to maintain civil lawsuits by prescribing venue, prescreening by the court, prepayment of all costs and fees, limiting discovery, imposing sanctions and specific conditions pursuant to which suit may be filed.
Patron - Norment

F SB662

Exemptions from jury service upon request. Adds certified nurse aides, licensed practical nurses and registered nurses to the persons exempt from jury service upon request.
Patron - Hawkins

Carried Over

C HB400

Civil immunity for certain boards. Adds hospitals to the list of those immune from civil liability while in the performance of duties, including the reliance upon recommendations of hospital committees. Additionally, the bill adds the proceedings, minutes, records and reports of hospital risk managers to the list of privileged communications.
Patron - Weatherholtz

C SB84

Civil immunity. Provides civil immunity for public officials who participate in a program where persons on probation are ordered as a condition of probation to pick up litter along a section of public roadway or waterway, unless there is willful misconduct. The bill also provides that it shall not be interpreted to grant any immunity to a motorist who, by his negligence, may injure such probationer.
Patron - Wampler

C SB307

Uniform Arbitration Act. Revises the original Act, which was promulgated by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 1955 and adopted in Virginia in 1986. The Act expressly provides that it is a default act. Most of its provisions may be varied or waived by contract. Provisions that may not be waived or varied include the basic rule that an agreement to submit a dispute to arbitration is valid; the rules that govern disclosure of facts by a neutral arbitrator; the rules guaranteeing enforcement or appeal of the Act, an arbitration agreement or an arbitration decision in a court; or the standards for vacating an award. The Act specifically allows a court to order provisional remedies during the course of an arbitration before an arbitrator is selected. An arbitrator also has an express power to order provisional remedies. The Act allows consolidation of separate arbitration proceedings. The Act specifically addresses disclosure of known facts that give rise to questions of neutrality. The Act provides arbitrators with immunity from civil liability. An arbitrator has the express power to make summary dispositions of claims or issues under appropriate procedures, to hold pre-arbitration proceeding meetings or to use any other discovery process (any process that adduces relevant evidence for the proceeding) applicable to resolution of the dispute. These provisions put arbitrators on the same level as judges in a judicial proceeding with respect to discovery of evidence. The Act expressly permits an arbitrator to give punitive damages or other exemplary relief, "if such an award is authorized by law in a civil action involving the same claim." Attorney's fees may be awarded under the same standard.
Patron - Edwards

C SB540

Anonymous plaintiff. Provides that any party can move for an order concerning the propriety of anonymous participation in a proceeding and lists the factors that the court is to consider in determining whether anonymity can be maintained. The issue may be raised at any stage of the litigation when circumstances warrant a reconsideration of the issue. If the court orders identification, the pleadings and dockets will be amended to reflect the true name back to date of filing. This bill is a recommendation of the Boyd-Graves Conference.
Patron - Mims

C SB558

Dismissal of action by nonsuit. Allows the court to assess jury costs to the nonsuiting party when notice of the nonsuit is exercised at trial or within 24 hours prior to the beginning of trial.
Patron - Stosch

C SB654

Subpoena duces tecum; financial institutions and credit card companies. Provides for a subpoena duces tecum to obtain customer records from financial institutions and credit card issuers for a legitimate law-enforcement reason.
Patron - Mims


© 2002 by the Division of Legislative Services.