Skiing With Lawyers Can Be Dangerous to Your Appeal


In a rebuke to the ‘blame game,’ the Virginia Supreme Court affirmed a trial court’s decision to kick out a legal malpractice case on summary judgment. In Wintergreen Partners, Inc. v. McGuireWoods, LLP, Wintergreen contended that its former lawyers at McGuireWoods screwed up an appeal.

As noted by the Supreme Court, McGuireWoods “failed to ensure that the trial transcripts were timely filed.” As a result, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal. (As an aside, this an especially harsh result but one that speaks to the need to follow the rules).

Looking backwards, the underlying case concerned severe injuries sustained by Jessica Grigg when she crashed into a snow groomer as she was skiing at night at Wintergreen Resort. She ended up suing the employees who were transporting the snow groomer and Wintergreen, alleging that they were all negligent. At trial, the jury was given a verdict form that allowed them to consider the fate of each defendant and concluded that only Wintergreen was negligent to the tune of $8.3 million. Wintergreen argued that the verdict was inconsistent because if its employees were not negligent, how could it be deemed to be negligent? The trial court didn’t buy it and the verdict stood. The appeal was made and then dismissed.

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