Fairly Debatable Standard Upheld: Town of Leesburg v Giordano


In Town of Leesburg v Giordano, the Virginia Supreme Court faced clearly-settled law but an interesting argument. And, as can happen in such cases, it resulted in a well-reasoned majority opinion and a strongly-worded dissent. The opinion was issued on November 4, 2010.

The case involved out-of-town water and sewer rates set by ordinance of the Town Council of Leesburg. Ordinances are legislative matters, and the Virginia Supreme Court has held several times that setting of rates by the governing body is a legislative action. E.g., Eagle Harbor LLC v. Isle of Wight County, 271 Va. 603, 628 S.E.2d 298 (2006). Every legislative action may be challenged , but a challenger faces a difficult test — overcoming the fairly debatable standard. Under this standard, even if the challenger introduces significant, even compelling evidence of unreasonableness, the locality can prevail if there is “any evidence” of reasonableness. Board of Supervisors v. Stickley, 263 Va. 1, 556 S.E.2d 748 (2002).

Here, even though the plaintiffs’ expert witness did a complex rate study and testified at length to the unreasonableness of the rates, Town witnesses testified that the method to set rates was appropriate, that an out-of-town differential is common, that this differential was in line with others across Virginia, and that the rates themselves were reasonable. Locality won. Simple. Right?

Please see full article below for more information.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Sands Anderson PC | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


Sands Anderson PC on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:

Sign up to create your digest using LinkedIn*

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.

Already signed up? Log in here

*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.