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Declaratory Judgments: Cases Summarized By Personal Injury Attorney

The cases below are a compilation of cases on declaratory judgments from the Virginia Supreme Court summarized by Brien Roche dealing with the topic of Declaratory Judgments and the related topic of personal injury. For more information on declaratory judgment see the pages on Wikipedia.

Declaratory Judgments-Statutes

See Va. Code § 8.01-184.

Declaratory Judgments-Cases

2007 Afzall v. Commonwealth, 273 Va. 226, 639 S.E.2d 279.

In this declaratory judgment action to determine the amount of attorney fees to be deducted from Medicaid lien in prior personal injury action, Supreme Court concluded that the Commonwealth has not waived its sovereign immunity as to declaratory judgments and therefore the case was dismissed.

2005 Asplundh Tree Expert Co. v. Pacific Employers Ins. Co., 269 Va. 399, 611 S.E.2d 531.

Declaratory judgment action arising out of automobile collision where plaintiff was being driven in company truck to place of employment. In this case, the employer’s insurance company funded a settlement of the civil action brought by the employee against the employer in West Virginia and preserved its rights to challenge coverage. The issue of coverage was properly preserved for determination by the Circuit Court in Virginia and that trial court determined that there was no coverage for this claim because the plaintiff was, in fact, an employee for purposes of workers’ compensation coverage and therefore, that was his exclusive remedy. As a result, the employer was required to refund the settlement proceeds to the insurance company.

2004 Green v. Goodman-Gable-Gould Co., 268 Va. 102, 597 S.E.2d 77.

Plaintiff sought to non-suit contract claims and proceed to trial solely on declaratory judgment action in this contractual dispute between homeowner and public adjusting company. The purpose of declaratory judgments is not to resolve disputed facts that would be determinative of the issue. In this case, the only issue presented to the jury for determination in the declaratory judgment action was whether the adjusting firm had performed the contract. That is simply a contract issue and should have been tried as such. Entry of declaratory judgments should be exercised by the trial court with great care and caution.

1998 USAA Casualty Ins. Co. v. Randolph, 255 Va. 342, 497 S.E.2d 744.

In this insurance coverage dispute case was inappropriate for declaratory judgment because it did not involve determination of rights, but only a disputed issue to be determined in future litigation between parties, namely whether employee’s injuries arose out of and in course of his employment. Martin was truck driver for Southern States Cooperative. At end of his regular work shift Martin was to take company owned truck home because he was to be on call. He was transferring personal belongings from his car to company truck when rifle in his car accidentally discharged striking Randolph, another employee of Southern States. Randolph filed bill of complaint for declaratory judgment requesting determination by court as to whether worker’s compensation bar applied. When declaratory judgment regarding disputed fact would be determinative of issues, rather than construction of definite stated rights, status or other relations commonly expressed in written instruments, case not appropriate for declaratory judgment. This case does not involve determination of rights but only disputed issue to be determined in future litigation.

1990 Erie Ins. Group v. Hughes, 240 Va. 165, 393 S.E.2d 210.

Auto accident involving coverage dispute. Without owner and operator of insured vehicle being parties, this action could not be sufficiently conclusive, and therefore, court lacks jurisdiction to issue declaratory judgments.

1983 Reisen v. Aetna Life & Cas. Co., 225 Va. 327, 302 S.E.2d 529.

Carrier filed declaratory judgment action which was heard prior to trial of tort action to resolve question of coverage. Plaintiff had sued both in negligence and intentional tort. Declaratory action was properly heard prior to tort action.

1970 Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v. Bishop, 211 Va. 414, 177 S.E.2d 519.

Since various claims and rights have all accrued and matured, action at law for money judgment is proper procedure. Intent of declaratory judgments is to have courts render declaratory judgment which may guide parties in their future conduct in relation to each other with view to avoid litigation rather than to aid it. Here insurance company paid claim and filed DJA to determine if its coverage was primary.

1970 Criterion Ins. Co. v. Grange Mut. Ins. Co., 210 Va. 446, 171 S.E.2d 669.

Motion for declaratory judgment may be maintained by injured party’s uninsured motorist carrier against tortfeasor’s carrier who has denied liability.

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Declaratory Judgments: Cases Summarized By Personal Injury Attorney

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