Several Appeals to Virginia Supreme Court Pending affecting Community Associations

Virginia_supreme_court_seal[1]The Virginia Supreme Court is scheduled to hear several appeals over the next few months that affect community associations and business partners in Virginia:

HEATHER GRAHAM v. COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT CORPORATION (Record Number 161066)

From The Circuit Court of Fairfax County

Date Granted: 11-03-2016

  • Assignments of Error:
    The Trial Court erred in granting CMC’s Plea in bar thereby dismissing Heather Graham’s Complaint on the basis that Virginia Supreme Court Rule 3:25 mandated that Heather Graham, as a prevailing party defendant in the underlying action between her and CMC, was required to pursue a claim for attorneys’ fees even though as a defendant she was not required to and had not asserted any claims for affirmative relief, including a claim for attorneys’ fees, in the underlying action and further holding that her failure to make such a claim, irrespective of whether her chose in action had even accrued, forever barred her from filing an independent action against CMC for breach of contract.
  • The Court erred in holding that Heather Graham was precluded from seeking prevailing party attorneys’ fees in an independent breach of contract action because Virginia Supreme Court Rule 3:25 created what was tantamount to a compulsory counterclaim that mandated that she make her contractual claim for prevailing party attorneys’ fees in the earlier litigation or be barred from doing so even though her breach of contract claim against CMC had not ripened until:
    • 21 days after the Final Order was entered* confirming that Graham was the prevailing party; and
    • Graham’s cause of action had accrued under Virginia Code §8.01-380 following her demand upon CMC and CMC’s refusal to pay Graham’s contractual claim thereby breaching the Confidentiality Agreement.

MARTHA A. LAMBERT v. SEA OATS CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION, INC.  (Record Number 160269)

From The Circuit Court of the City of Virginia Beach

Date Granted: 06-22-2016

Assignments of Error:

  • The trial court erred in awarding Lambert only $375 instead of the full amount requested. Specifically, the trial court erroneously concluded that the consideration of an award of attorney’s fees made pursuant to Code of Virginia § 55-79.53(A) requires or is controlled by a “nexus between the amount of damages in dispute and the attorney’s fees associated with collecting them.”
    Assignment of Cross-Error
  • The trial court erred in awarding attorney’s fees because Lambert failed to introduce any evidence regarding attorney’s fees prior to resting her case. An attorney who seeks to recover legal fees must establish, as an element of the attorney’s prima facie case, that the fees charged are reasonable. Chawla v. BurgerBusters, Inc., 255 Va. 616, 623, 499 S.E.2d 829, 833 (1998). Because attorney’s fees were never established as an element of Lambert’s prima facie case, the court should not have awarded any attorney’s fees.

KENNETH M. SHEPHERD, ET AL. v. RACHELLE CONDE, ET AL.(Record Number 160606)

From The Circuit Court of Fauquier County

Date Granted: 09-16-2016

Assignments of Error

  • The trial court erred in finding that the Association has no powers under the POA even though the Declaration and Declaration as amended provide the power to impose assessments for road maintenance and impose a duty to perform such maintenance.
  • The trial court erred in holding that the Declaration did not create an association under Virginia law.
  • The trial court erred in finding that a 100% majority is required in order to amend the Declaration of the Association.
  • The trial court erred when it failed to rule on the Appellants’ Request for a Declaratory Judgment that “the [Declaration is] binding on all lot owners in the Saddle Ridge Community.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *