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Thursday, August 29, 2013, 7:47 PM

Virginia Supreme Court to Clarify Business Conspiracy Statute in Case Brought by Franchisee

Virginia Lawyers Weekly reports that the Fourth Circuit is asking the Virginia Supreme Court to answer two questions about the interpretation of Virginia's Business Conspiracy Statute.

The case, Dunlap v. Cottman Transmissions Systems, LLC, was brought by the owner of a transmission shop who alleged that local competitors and others conspired to get the franchisor to force him out of business.  The Eastern District of Virginia dismissed the lawsuit, and the shop owner appealed.  Instead of addressing the issues on appeal, the Fourth Circuit decided that it would be best to ask the Virginia Supreme Court to answer the unresolved questions of state law pursuant to Rule 5:40 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia.

The first question is whether an allegation of tortious interference with contract or business expectancy can serve as the basis for a statutory conspiracy claim.  The second question is whether a two-year or five-year limitations period applies to a tortious interference claim.

Interestingly, the Fourth Circuit panel that issued the ruling included former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who was sitting on the panel by designation.  In this day and age, Supreme Court Judges are frequently accused of judicial activism by those who disagree with their rulings.  Justice O'Connor's decision to certify a question to a state court instead of resolving it herself is perhaps the epitome of judicial restraint and moderation.

To learn more about this case, you can read my post on the Western District of Virginia Law Blog.

Thursday, August 22, 2013, 1:17 PM

My New Blog Following Civil Litigation in the Western District of Virginia

A few weeks ago, I started a new blog that focuses on noteworthy civil cases and news from the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia. I have a special affinity for this part of the Commonwealth and its federal court. I grew up in Bedford County, just outside Lynchburg, Virginia -- the center of the seven divisions in the WDVa. After law school, I served as a law clerk for then Chief Judge Samuel G. Wilson in Roanoke, Virginia. After a brief hiatus in North Carolina, I returned to the Commonwealth and have been practicing law in Charlottesville, Virginia, home of my alma mater, the University of Virginia. Although not as famous as the Eastern District of Virginia's "rocket docket," I find the Western District to be appropriately expeditious in moving cases forward, courteous towards lawyers, thoughtful in their deliberations and fair to all litigants. I am looking forward to writing more about significant cases and developments within the Western District of Virginia.  You can check out the blog at 

Thursday, August 15, 2013, 9:55 AM

Antitrust and Competition Review 2013

Financier Worldwide has published an question and answer session with me regarding advice for companies facing antitrust issues in the United States in their annual Antitrust and Competition Review 2013. The article is available for download at their website, upon request. The article addresses issues such as: recent enforcement priorities from FTC and DOJ; how companies can avoid antitrust issues with compliance and training programs; and what to do if your company faces a "dawn raid."
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