Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Virginia Supreme Court

by
A limited liability company (Company) filed an application for a special exception to build a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) bus maintenance facility on a parcel of land in County. A County Board of Supervisors (Board) supervisor disclosed that the supervisor had received campaign contributions from attorneys representing Company, and two other supervisors disclosed that they were principal director and alternate director of WMATA. The Board approved the application. The three supervisors who had made disclosures each voted to approve the application. Plaintiffs filed a complaint (1) seeking a declaratory judgment that the Board's approval of the application was void because Va. Code Ann. 15-2-852(A) required the three supervisors to recuse themselves from consideration of the application, and (2) alleging that the Board's approval of the application was not fairly debatable. The circuit court sustained the Board's demurrer as to the applicability of section 15.2-852(A) and awarded summary judgment to the Board on the remainder of the complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in its judgment. View "Newberry Station Homeowners Ass'n v. Bd. of Supervisors of Fairfax County" on Justia Law

by
The Board of Supervisors of Fluvanna County filed a complaint against Davenport & Company asserting that Davenport, which served as the financial advisor to the Board, knowingly made false representations and used its fiduciary position to persuade the Board to hire Davenport as an advisor regarding the financing of the construction of a new high school. Davenport filed a demurrer to the complaint, which the circuit court granted on the basis that the separation of powers doctrine prevented the court from resolving the controversy because the court would have to inquire into the motives of the Board's legislative decision making. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Board effectively waived its common law legislative immunity from civil liability and the burden of litigation, and therefore the circuit court erred in sustaining Davenport's demurrer on these grounds. View "Bd. of Supervisors of Fluvanna County v. Davenport & Co. LLC" on Justia Law

by
A real estate developer (Developer), purchased property contained within a proposed sudivision. The County issued to Developer a total of fifty-two building permits, for which Developer paid a proffer fee of $12,000, which was $4,000 more than Developer expected to pay. In 2007, Developer filed an action asking the trial court to declare that the County could not lawfully assess the $4,000 fee. In 2011, after the fee had been paid on all fifty-two permits, the court found that the $4,000 fee was unlawful. In 2008, Developer instituted a restitution action seeking reimbursement of the fees. The trial court consolidated this restitution action and the declaratory judgment action for a bench trial. After ruling in Developer's favor in the declaratory judgment action, the court ruled in the restitution action that Developer was barred from being awarded reimbursement of the unlawful fees because it paid them "voluntarily" within the meaning of the voluntary payment doctrine. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in holding that Developer's action for reimbursement of the disputed fees was barred under the voluntary payment doctrine. View "D.R. Horton, Inc. v. Bd. of Supervisors" on Justia Law

by
The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors disallowed payment on a portion of retirement benefits promised to several retired Albemarle County employees (collectively, Retirees). The benefits promised under the County's Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Program (VERIP) were partially disallowed due to a miscalculation by a County employee prior to the retirements. The Retirees appealed. The County and Board (hereafter, the County) demurred, arguing that the Retirees failed to comply with Va. Code 15.2-1246 by not serving written notice of their appeal on the clerk of the Board. The circuit court overruled the demurrer and found in favor of Plaintiffs, awarding each of the Retirees the amount of the withheld VERIP stipend that the County claimed would amount to an overpayment if properly calculated under the program. The Supreme Court reversed and entered final judgment in favor of the County, holding that the statutorily required written notice of appeal was insufficient, and accordingly, the circuit court erred in failing to sustain the County's demurrer. View "County of Albemarle v. Camirand" on Justia Law

by
These consolidated appeals arose from a final determination of the State Corporation Commission in a mandated biennial review of the rates, terms, and conditions for the provision of generation, distribution and transmission services of an electric utility. As pertinent here, commencing in 2011, the Virginia Electric Utility Regulation Act required the Commission to conduct biennial reviews of an electric utility's performance during the two successive twelve-month periods immediately prior to such reviews pursuant to Va. Code Ann. 56-585.1(A). At issue in this appeal was whether in the 2011 biennial review of the performance of Virginia Electric and Power Company in the 2009-2010 test period the Commission erred in determining that the utility's authorized fair rate of return on common equity of 10.9 percent would apply to the entire 2011-2012 test period in the next biennial review in 2013. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission's construction of Code 56-585.1 was based upon the proper application of legal principles, and the Commission did not abuse the discretion afforded to it under that statute. View "Va. Elec. & Power Co. v. State Corp. Comm'n" on Justia Law

by
This appeal from an order dismissing an action for wrongful death presented the question whether the decedent, who was serving on active duty with the armed forces of the United States at the time of his injury, was covered by the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act. If his injury, which was the subject of this action, came within the purview of the Act, an award under the Act would have been his estate's exclusive remedy, barring this action. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the decedent never acquired the right to seek compensation under the Act, and therefore, the circuit court erred in dismissing the action. View "Gibbs v. Newport News Shipbuildng & Drydock Co." on Justia Law

by
At issue in this appeal was whether the circuit court erred when it found that a county subdivision did not violate a restrictive covenant requiring compliance with the county's subdivision ordinance in effect in 1997. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding that the circuit court (1) did not err in ruling that the county's 1997 subdivision ordinance did not incorporate the requirements of its 1997 zoning ordinance by implication; but (2) erred when it refused to consider claims that the subdivision violated certain provisions of the 1997 subdivision ordinance not specifically referenced in the amended complaint. View "Fein v. Payandeh" on Justia Law

by
In this appeal, Appalachian Power Company (APCO) sought rate adjustment clause recovery of $33.3 million in environmental compliance costs that the State Corporation Commission denied. The Supreme Court reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded, holding (1) APCO was entitled to a rate adjustment clause for recovery of actual costs it directly incurred for environmental compliance in 2009 and 2010 but did not recover through its base rates, and the portion of the Commission's decision denying recovery of environmental compliance costs on the basis that those costs were connected with projects included in APCO's base rates which APCO had the opportunity to recover was reversed; and (2) the portion of the Commission's decision denying APCO recovery of environmental compliance costs alleged to be embedded in the capacity equalization charges APCO paid to its affiliates in 2009 and 2010 was affirmed. Remanded. View "Appalachian Power Co. v. State Corp. Comm'n" on Justia Law

by
At issue in his case was whether the circuit court correctly determined that certain exchanges of e-mails between members of a local school board did not constitute a "meeting" within the meaning of Va. Code 2.2-3701 and, thus, did not violate the notice and open meeting requirements of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court, holding (1) the court did not err in determining that the Board had not conducted an improper closed meeting in violation of the notice and open meeting requirements of the FOIA; and (2) the circuit court did not err in concluding that because the citizen requesting information under the FOIA had not substantially prevailed on the merits of the case, she was not entitled to an award of attorneys' fees and costs.

by
Geoff Livingston and 134 other homeonwers or renters (collectively Plaintiffs) in a Fairfax County subdivision brought an inverse condemnation suit against the County and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) after their homes were flooded during a severe storm. The circuit court dismissed the suit on demurrer, holding that a single occurrence of flooding could not support an inverse condemnation claim under Va. Const. art. I, 11. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the facts alleged in Plaintiffs' complaint, if taken as true, established that their homes and personal property were damaged by VDOT's operation of, and failure to maintain, the relocation of a tributary stream, the circuit court erred in dismissing their inverse condemnation suit on VDOT's demurrer. Remanded.