Docket – February 14, 2019

Supreme Court of Virginia

Jeffreys v. The Uninsured Employers Fund (P), SCV (Kelsey) from CAV.

The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission properly denied a benefits claim for an injury the claimant suffered while renovating the Harvey Colored School, a historic school building being restored by the Harvey School Historical Society. The Commission correctly held, and the Court of Appeals affirmed, that the Historical Society was not the claimant’s statutory employer.

The claimant contends that he lost his benefits claim because Code § 65.2-302 wasn’t interpreted liberally in his favor. But rightly applied, the liberal-construction principle means only that an interpretation of the Workers’ Compensation Act should take into account the humane, beneficent purposes embedded in the legislative quid pro quo. Here, the Commission reviewed the history of the Historical Society, its informal governance structure, its charitable and nonprofit purposes, its fundraising and community-outreach efforts, its lack of any experience or involvement in the business of construction or renovation, and its founder’s role in its activities. The claimant failed to persuade the Commission that his reconstruction work on the school building was part of the Historical Society’s trade, business, or occupation. The complete reconstruction of the school was beyond the restoration project envisioned by the Historical Society, and its members were not involved in the reconstruction project or other construction activities.


U.S. District Court – Virginia Eastern

Bethune-Hill v. Va. State Bd. of Elections, EDVA at Richmond (Keenan).

The court has approved a remedial redistricting plan for use in the 2019 Virginia House of Delegates elections.

After finding that 11 majority-minority House districts were racial gerrymanders in violation of the Equal Protection Clause, the court previously ordered the Virginia General Assembly to adopt a new redistricting plan. When it did not do so, the court appointed a special master to assist in preparing a remedial plan. The parties and interested non-parties now have submitted a total of seven proposed plans for consideration in this remedial phase. Based on these proposals, the special master has filed a final report evaluating these plans and offering several alternatives.

The court concludes that a map composed of four of the special master’s regional proposals remedies the constitutional deficiencies previously identified, complies with traditional districting criteria, defers to the priorities of the legislature, and does not undermine minorities’ rights under the Voting Rights Act.

The defendants are directed to implement the Final Remedial Plan for use in the 2019 Virginia House of Delegates elections.

U.S. District Court – Virginia Western

Noel v. Wal-Mart Stores East LP, WDVA at Danville (Kiser).

In this slip-and-fall case, genuine material issues of fact remain as to whether the defendant had actual notice of the unsafe condition at its Martinsville store and failed to address it in a reasonable time.

The plaintiff offered evidence from which a reasonable juror could conclude that Wal- Mart had actual notice of liquid on the store floor but failed to either warn of or remedy the dangerous condition. A person appearing to be a store manager said: “Someone was supposed to clean that up.” This statement could reasonably be interpreted to show: (1) Wal-Mart was aware of the liquid on the floor; (2) a responsible party had instructed a Wal-Mart employee to clean up the liquid; (3) a reasonable amount of time had elapsed during which the requested clean-up should have occurred; (4) the liquid was not cleaned up; and (5) Wal-Mart did not warn its customers of the danger after it learned that liquid was on the floor. While the Plaintiff can’t show how long the liquid was on the floor, she need only establish that Wal-Mart had enough time to either warn or remedy the defect.

Defendant’s motion for summary judgment denied.

Categories: Daily Dockets

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