Limited Tort Reform Passes Virginia Assembly

by Sands Anderson PC

Virginia‘s 2013 General Assembly session has now concluded.  A package of Tort Reform bills met with mixed results—some passing, and other’s failing.  The bills that did pass (discussed below) will impact civil practice in Virginia, and should be of interest to business and insurance clients.  Of particular note are the proposed changes to summary judgment practice, permissible venue in suits against businesses and evidence of fees and costs in situations where plaintiffs suffer last minute nonsuits.

SB1317 amends Code § 8.01-262, and limits venue options for plaintiffs who file suit against businesses that operate in several localities across the state.  While venue is still permissible where a corporation’s principal office or principal place of business is located, venue is no longer proper in localities where a corporation’s president or chief officer resides.  Also, in cases where venue is based solely upon a corporation’s substantial business activity, a “practical nexus” between the business activity and the forum is required.  Under common law, the “practical nexus” requirement is not absolute, which means venue may still be appropriate without it.  SB1317 changes the common law rule thereby making a “practical nexus” absolutely required.  This will likely benefit corporate clients by limiting the available venue options for plaintiffs who are forum shopping around the state for the most favorable venue to file suit.          

HB1708, which amends Code § 8.01-420, profoundly affects summary judgment practice for business and insurance clients.  The changes will allow defendants to use depositions taken under Rule 4:5 to support motions for summary judgment in cases where plaintiffs are seeking punitive damages.  This change is significant in light of Virginia’s long-standing refusal to allow parties to support their summary judgment motions on deposition testimony without agreement by the parties.  However, the new law does not apply in situations where punitive damages claims are based on alcohol and drug use in automobile accident cases. 

Finally, HB1709 lowers the evidentiary burden for defendants seeking reimbursement for witness fees and travel costs in situations where plaintiffs fail to provide notice of nonsuit more than seven days before or during trial.  The bill amends Virginia Code § 8.01-380, and allows parties to introduce into evidence invoices, receipts, or confirmation of payment to prove the reasonableness of payments made to expert witnesses.  This evidence alone, in the court’s discretion, may satisfy the reasonableness requirement without further testimony.  Unfortunately, courts are usually unwilling to reimburse defendants with costs even if they satisfy the existing evidentiary standard so it is unlikely that the new law will have any impact.  Hopefully, the new law will at least encourage plaintiffs to abide by the statutory notice requirements and discourage last-minute, unjustified nonsuits.

One significant victory for corporate clients is the failure of HB1552, which would have increased the statutory cap on punitive damages from $350,000 to $675,000 with an annual adjustment for inflation.        

All of this will take effect July 1, 2013.

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

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 using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*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.