Caveat Emptor and a Buyer’s Duty to Investigate Real Estate Purchase

October 30, 2014 on 1:07 pm | In Construction litigation, General Interest, Real Estate Litigation, State & Federal Litigation | No Comments

We blogged about a Charlottesville Circuit Court case in which the court analyzed the duty to disclose for a seller of residential real estate.  We wrote another post regarding that case discussing an exception to the rule of caveat emptor. Specifically, if the seller attempted to “divert” the purchaser’s attention away from problem areas, a court could find fraud and rescind the contract.

However, in Virginia, if a prospective home purchaser discovers information alerting him to a potential problem, that person is charged with knowledge he would have found had he diligently pursued the inquiry. That rule was highlighted in an unpublished opinion released by the Virginia Supreme Court. This blog post reviews the facts of that case and the lessons to learn for real estate sellers and buyers.

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Attorneys’ Fees and Litigation – When fees get awarded to the “Prevailing Party”

October 30, 2014 on 1:07 pm | In Common Interest Community, Construction litigation, HOA, HOA litigation, John Tarley, Mediation, Real Estate Litigation, State & Federal Litigation, Unit Owners Association | No Comments

In litigation matters involving common interest communities (otherwise known as homeowners associations (“HOAs”) or condominium owners associations (“condo associations”)), the issue of awarding attorneys’ fees for prevailing parties ultimately arises. Generally, the HOA’s Governing Documents or the condo association’s Condominium Instruments contain such a provision. Otherwise, attorneys’ fees may be recoverable by statute for HOAs and condo associations.

These attorney fee-shifting provisions, either by contract or statute, are contrary to the typical “American Rule” cases in which each side pays their own attorneys’ fees. Because litigation has become so expensive to pursue, whether to award attorneys’ fees, and the amount of any award, has become separate litigation on its own at the conclusion of cases.

In the recent case of Dewberry & Davis, Inc. v. C3NS, Inc., the Virginia Supreme Court was faced with the issue of “whether the circuit court erred in applying an attorneys’ fees provision of a contract.” We had previously blogged about this case, because in the underlying contract between the parties, Dewberry & Davis, an engineering company, had limited its liability for damages. The trial court had determined the limitation of liability clause was void, pointing to a recent change to Virginia Code § 54.1-411that permitted an engineering company to include a limitation of liability clause. Because the contract predated the code change, the court determined that those changes “demonstrate that the General Assembly fully intended to alter the statute’s intent.”

The case continued to trial, and eventually, upon appeal, to the Virginia Supreme Court. This blog post explains that Supreme Court decision relating to the award of attorneys’ fees.

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In litigation, you can’t always get what you want (especially if you don’t ask)

October 30, 2014 on 1:07 pm | In Construction litigation, Contributors, General Interest, HOA litigation, John Tarley, Real Estate Litigation, State & Federal Litigation | No Comments

It’s a fundamental rule in Virginia that the Plaintiff (the person filing a lawsuit) can only recover the relief requested in the Complaint. In a recent unpublished decision, the Virginia Supreme Court reaffirmed the requirement that a party can only get relief if they ask for it.

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One important tip for your construction project – Change Orders

October 30, 2014 on 1:07 pm | In Construction litigation, General Interest, John Tarley, State & Federal Litigation | No Comments

The DPOR regulations require Class A Contractors to obtain written change orders “which are signed by both the consumer and the licensee.” This requirement sounds pretty reasonable and easy to maintain, yet the reality is that many contractors fail to fully comply with this provision, leading to possible problems down the road.

 

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Do the Virginia Rules of Evidence change settlement negotiations and mediations?

October 30, 2014 on 1:06 pm | In Construction litigation, HOA litigation, Mediation, Real Estate Litigation | No Comments

Virginia’s new codified Rules of Evidence became effective on July 1, 2012. In an article in Virginia Lawyers Weekly, five of the rules were highlighted. One of those highlighted rules was Rule 2:408, “Compromise and Offers to Compromise.” The terms of this rule differ from the terms of the Federal Rule of Evidence 408, but those differences will not be explored in this post. Instead, this blog post will review Virginia Rule of Evidence 2:408, and its possible implications for settlement discussions and mediation.

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Eminent Domain is on the Virginia State Ballot for 2012

October 30, 2012 on 7:00 am | In Construction litigation, Land Use Planning, Real Estate Litigation, Real Estate Strategies, Weekly Tweets, Zoning | No Comments

The 2012 Election is right around the corner. In Virginia we have been inundated with political ads for the two presidential candidates, a side-effect to living in a swing state. However, we have not seen any political ads on the proposed Constitutional Amendment on the Virginia Ballot on November 6. This article will discuss the proposed Virginia Constitutional Amendment and hopefully provide you with facts and access to information you need to make your decision next week.

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There still are no winners in Virginia’s Chinese Drywall Cases

June 26, 2012 on 8:00 am | In Construction litigation, John Tarley, Real Estate Litigation, Weekly Tweets | No Comments

Recent news articles reported that a Norfolk Circuit Court awarded default judgment to several homeowners against Taishan Gypsum Company, a Chinese drywall manufacturer. However, as with the other outcomes in Virginia, it is unlikely that homeowners or building supply companies will receive any benefits from this decision.

 

Chinese Drywall complete remedition

 

 

When the corrosive drywall issues first became public, concerns were raised about two possible issues: a) health effects; and b) property damage. To date, both the Centers for Disease Control and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) have found that “not enough information exists to determine the nature and magnitude of a potential health risk.” Furthermore, no deaths can be attributed to exposure to imported corrosive drywall. That is good news. Continue reading “There still are no winners in Virginia’s Chinese Drywall Cases”

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New Legislation will change the operations of your Virginia Condominium Associations and Homeowner Associations

April 20, 2012 on 7:55 pm | In Common Interest Community, Construction litigation, HOA, HOA litigation, Susan B. Tarley, Unit Owners Association, Weekly Tweets | No Comments

My first year on the Community Associations Institute Virginia Legislative Action Committee (“VALAC”) was a great learning experience. The education on how our legislature works was, well, interesting. The greater educational moment came in watching the members of the VALAC volunteer for innumerable hours towards the betterment of the community association industry. Here are some of the changes in Virginia law for HOAs: Continue reading “New Legislation will change the operations of your Virginia Condominium Associations and Homeowner Associations”

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