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Estoppel Cases Summarized By Accident Attorney

This page within Virginia Tort Case Law is a compilation of cases reported by the Virginia Supreme Court and summarized by Brien Roche dealing with the topic of Estoppel and the related topic of personal injury. For more information on estoppel issues see the pages on Wikipedia.


2016 Mikhaylov v. Sales, 291 Va. 349, 784 S.E.2d 286.
Defendant pled guilty to assault and battery. In subsequent civil action the defendant was judicially estopped from denying guilt.

2007 Peerless Ins. Co. v. County of Fairfax, 274 Va. 236, 645 S.E.2d 478.
The fundamental element of judicial estoppel is that the party sought to be estopped must be seeking to adopt a factual, rather than legal, position, which is inconsistent with a stance taken in prior litigation.

2006 Parson v. Carroll, 272 Va. 560, 636 S.E.2d 452.
In this defamation action, plaintiff had entered an Alford plea to criminal charges arising out of the allegedly defamatory statements. In making that plea plaintiff did not make any concessions of fact which through the doctrine of judicial estoppel would raise a legal bar to his defamation action. As such, it was error for trial court to grant summary judgment to defendant. The doctrine of judicial estoppel is designed to prohibit a party from assuming successive positions in an action or a series of actions regarding the same facts or state of facts which are inconsistent with each other. In regards to the Alford plea plaintiff did not assert any factual position and as such there was no estoppel.

2004 Rawlings v. Lopez, 267 Va. 4, 591 S.E.2d 691.
Auto accident case where driver and passengers sued Lopez in separate lawsuits. Driver’s suit was the first to be tried and jury returned verdict in favor of Lopez. Lopez then asserted res judicata and collateral estoppel as defenses. Neither defense was a bar to the action brought by the passengers. In regards to collateral estoppel, Virginia adheres to the rule of mutuality, meaning, that a litigant is prevented from invoking the preclusive force of a judgment unless he would have been bound had the prior litigation of that issue reached the opposite result. There was no mutuality here and therefore, collateral estoppel does not apply. Res judicata does not apply because there was no identity of the parties nor were they in privity.

2001 Scales v. Lewis, 261 Va. 379, 541 S.E.2d 899.
For doctrine of collateral estoppel to apply, following elements must be met: (1) parties to prior and subsequent proceedings or their privies must be identical; (2) factual issues sought to be litigated must have been litigated in prior action; (3) factual issue must have been essential to the judgment in prior proceeding; (4) prior action must have resulted in judgment that is valid, final, and against the party whom the doctrine is sought to be applied; and (5) there must also be mutuality, i.e., litigant cannot invoke collateral estoppel unless he would have been bound, had litigation of the issue reached the opposite result. In this case, subrogation action brought by insurance carrier was not bar to subsequent action by insured. In order to prove the issue or claim is precluded by former adjudication, record of prior action must be offered into evidence. The underlying action in the general district court brought by insurance carrier was simply marked as being dismissed. In that action, the insurance company alleged simply that the defendant was negligent and that his negligence was a proximate cause of the accident. It was not alleged in that case that the defendant was negligent and that his negligence was the proximate cause of the accident. The dismissal of the prior subrogation claim was not a bar to refiling of suit against same driver and others.

2000 Berczek v. Erie Ins. Group, 259 Va. 795, 529 S.E.2d 89.
Plaintiff injured in automobile accident thereafter settles tort claim and gives release discharging “all other persons, firms, or corporations.” This does not constitute release of claim for medical payments coverage against the plaintiff’s own carrier.

1998 State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. v. Mabry, 255 Va. 286, 497 S.E.2d 844.
Martin was injured in home of Mabry when Mabry shot her four times using two pistols. Mabry is insured by State Farm for homeowner’s coverage. Martin asserted liability claim. State Farm defended under reservation of rights. Martin and Mabry in the liability claim entered into consent judgment. That consent judgment is not binding on State Farm as to issue of whether conduct of Mabry was negligent or intentional since necessary element of collateral estoppel is identity of parties. In addition there is no privity between State Farm and Mabry since State Farm is taking a different position on coverage issue than what Mabry asserts.

1995 Godbolt v. Brawley, 250 Va. 467, 463 S.E.2d 657.
Plaintiff was ejected from nightclub and thereafter became involved in brawl with off-duty sheriff working as security guard. Deputy sheriff discharged firearm striking plaintiff. Plaintiff brought this personal injury action. Plaintiff had been convicted of assault on deputy. Issue is whether that conviction was admissible in this civil proceeding. Where plaintiff is willing participant in intentional criminal act that causes injury, then claim may be barred. In this instance, plaintiff’s intentional criminal act was not direct cause of his injury and therefore prior conviction should not have been admissible.

1990 Ring v. Poelman, 240 Va. 323, 397 S.E.2d 824.
Plaintiff below asserted that issue of defendant’s negligence was one for jury. Supreme Court reaffirms general rule that party is forbidden to assume successive positions in course of suit that are inconsistent with each other or are mutually contradictory. Plaintiff will not be allowed to assert that trial court should have directed verdict against defendant on issue of liability.

1990 Luddeke v. Amana Refrig., 239 Va. 203, 387 S.E.2d 502.
Plaintiff contended defendant equitably estopped from pleading statute of limitations based on statement of defendant’s agent that problem with machinery in this breach of warranty case would be taken care of. Fact-finder concluded this did not constitute estoppel.

1990 Cowan v. Psychiatric Assocs., 239 Va. 59, 387 S.E.2d 747.
Elements of equitable estoppel: (1) representation; (2) reliance; (3) change of position; and (4) detriment. These must be proven by clear and convincing evidence.

1989 Elliott v. Shore Stop, Inc., 238 Va. 237, 384 S.E.2d 752.
Estoppel not applied when plaintiff’s conduct is induced by defendant’s own acts and false representations.

1988 Pennsylvania Cas. Co. v. Simopoulos, 235 Va. 460, 369 S.E.2d 166.
Estoppel must be established by clear and convincing evidence. Estoppel cannot be based on acts which were induced by that party’s own acts or on those induced by his own fraud.

1987 Fox v. Deese, 234 Va. 412, 362 S.E.2d 699.
Defendants raised plea of estoppel to plaintiff’s pleadings contending that plaintiff was asserting inconsistent positions. Trial court erred in sustaining plea.

1987 Aetna Cas. Co. v. National Union, 233 Va. 49, 353 S.E.2d 894.
No evidence that plaintiff relied to his detriment on contract between two other parties. Therefore, plaintiff has no standing to invoke doctrine of estoppel.

1985 Potomac Hosp. Corp. v. Dillon, 229 Va. 355, 329 S.E.2d 41.
Where party has voluntarily availed himself of benefit of statute he cannot later challenge its constitutionality.

1983 Sachs v. Hoffman, 224 Va. 545, 299 S.E.2d 343.
No basis for estoppel instruction where no showing of detriment or reasonable reliance.

1982 National Airlines v. Shea, 223 Va. 578, 292 S.E.2d 308.
For party to be estopped by silence there must be on his part intent to mislead or willingness that others should be deceived together with reason to believe that someone is relying on such silence. Attorney in this case was obliged to give court full fair and faithful answer. In addition, counsel failed to inform court of law adverse to his position.

1981 Harris v. Criterion Ins. Co., 222 Va. 496, 281 S.E.2d 878.
Negotiation of money order for delinquent premium payment did not estop insurer from denying coverage after cancellation of policy. Estoppel applies when insured can prove he justifiably relied on insurer’s conduct and was misled into believing policy was still in force.

1980 Boykins Corp. v. Welden, Inc., 221 Va. 81, 266 S.E.2d 887.
To invoke estoppel plaintiff must prove by clear, precise and unequivocal evidence: (1) false representation or concealment of material facts; (2) such was done with knowledge; (3) other party ignorant of truth; (4) representation made with intent that other party act on it; (5) other party induced to act; (6) detrimental reliance.

1978 Norman v. INA, 218 Va. 718, 239 S.E.2d 902.
If insurer defends with knowledge of breach by insured of contract and continues to defend without timely notice to insured, insurer is estopped afterward to deny liability on ground of such breach. Coverage of insurance contract may not be extended by estoppel or implied waiver to include risks expressly excluded. Only exception is where insurer unconditionally defends action against its insured. Norman was insured by INA for accident. Norman allegedly assaulted Wilson and Wilson recovered judgment against Norman. Norman sued INA which refused to indemnify Norman. Court held prior judgment against Norman operates as collateral estoppel of Norman’s action against INA.

1976 Maxey v. John Doe, 217 Va. 22, 225 S.E.2d 359.
Doctrine of estoppel by inconsistent positions does not arise unless party estopped has knowledge of options open to him and with such knowledge has elected to assume position. Party relying on estoppel must prove his claim by clear, precise and unequivocal evidence. Silence or inaction in absence of duty to speak does not create waiver or estoppel.

1973 Employer’s Ins. Co. v. Great Am. Ins. Co., 214 Va. 410, 200 S.E.2d 560.
One who had knowledge of options open to him and elected to assume one position is thereafter estopped to assume inconsistent position to prejudice of another who has relied on first position.

1970 Utica Mut. Ins. Co. v. National Indem., 2 10 Va. 769, 173 S.E.2d 855.
Waiver and estoppel must be proved by clear, precise and unequivocal evidence.

1969 Enos v. Fidelity & Cas. Co., 210 Va. 112, 168 S.E.2d 254.
Plaintiff claimed in pleading that defendant was agent of employer and was uninsured motorist. In present case plaintiff sued insurance company and asserted that defendant was insured under its policy. Inconsistent positions do not work estoppel.

1964 Stillwell v. Iowa Mut., 205 Va. 588, 139 S.E.2d 72.
Insurance company undertook defense under reservation of rights. No estoppel to deny coverage.

1963 Virginia Farm Bur. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Saccio, 204 Va. 769, 133 S.E.2d 268.
SR-21 form was submitted by carrier indicating there was coverage. Filing of SR-21 did not estop carrier from subsequently denying coverage.

1958 Cooper v. Employer’s Mut. Liab. Ins. Co., 199 Va. 908, 103 S.E.2d 210.
Where insurer under indemnity policy has knowledge of breach and undertakes defense without reservation of rights, insurer is thereafter estopped to avoid liability under policy on such grounds.

1951 Ferebee v. Hungate, 192 Va. 32, 63 S.E.2d 761.
In auto accident case, estoppel by inconsistent position does not apply to prior proceeding in which parties are not same.

1950 Ballard v. Cox, 191 Va. 654, 62 S.E.2d 1.
One essential element of estoppel is that person claiming it or on whose behalf it is asserted must have been misled to his injury.

1950 Maryland Cas. Co. v. Aetna Cas. Co., 191 Va. 225, 60 S.E.2d 876.
Insurance company estopped from claiming that policy of another insurer covered liability due to insurance company’s course of conduct.

1945 Nolde Bros. v. Chalkley, 184 Va. 553, 35 S.E.2d 827.
When estoppel is relied on to preclude party from claiming legal right, he who claims benefit of estoppel is himself bound thereby. Agency may be established through estoppel.

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Estoppel Cases Summarized By Accident Attorney

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