Strictly Speaking, What Needs to Change? A Review of How Statutory Changes Could Bring Strict Products Liability to Virginia

Strictly Speaking, What Needs to Change? A Review of How Statutory Changes Could Bring Strict Products Liability to Virginia

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Introduction

Virginia remains one of five states that refuse to adopt strict products liability. To date, the Supreme Court of Virginia has declined to follow the path Justice Traynor set out nearly a century ago, as its recent decisions confirm its resistance to strict liability. However, given the change in control of the General Assembly following the elections of 2017 and 2019, the General Assembly is in new hands and may remain that way for some time. This new legislative majority, among its plans for new policies, may soon consider establishing strict products liability by statute. In doing so, Virginia would not be alone. State legislation is the method that four states have already used to adopt strict liability. Others have passed statutes to further limit or expand the reach of liability that their state courts established. Legislation is thus a proven method to adopt and manage strict liability should the General Assembly
take up the effort.

Part I of this Comment briefly reviews the history of Virginia products liability law, and how small changes over centuries have put the Commonwealth on a long line trending slowly towards, but keeping a healthy distance from, modern product liability norms. Part II addresses where Virginia products liability law is today, and how that practically differs from strict liability. Part III explores how Virginia could adopt strict liability without unnecessarily disrupting established precedent and provides a sample statute to accomplish that end.

* Ryan Fowle

 J.D. Candidate, 2022, University of Richmond School of Law

 

Disrupting Death: How Specialized Capital Defenders Ground Virginia’s Machinery of Death to a Halt

Disrupting Death: How Specialized Capital Defenders Ground Virginia’s Machinery of Death to a Halt

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Introduction

Virginia’s repeal of capital punishment in 2021 is arguably the most momentous abolitionist event since 1972, when the United States Supreme Court invalidated capital punishment statutes nationwide. In part, Virginia’s repeal is momentous because it marks the first time a Southern state abolished the death penalty. In part, it is momentous because even among Southern states, Virginia was exceptional in its zeal for capital punishment. No state executed faster once a death sentence was handed down. And no state was more successful in defending death sentences, allowing Virginia to convert death sentences into executions at a higher rate than any other state in the Union. Sure, Texas holds the record for the most executions in the modern era of capital punishment. But Virginia was next in line with the second most executions in the modern era, and it holds the record for the most executions in the history of the United States, period.6 Granted, Virginia had been executing people for over 400 years, so it had a head start. But that just makes its repeal of the death penalty all the more remarkable. How did Virginia go from all-in on the death penalty to abolition?

 

* Corinna Barrett Lain

** Douglas A. Ramseur

* S.D. Roberts and Sandra Moore Professor of Law, University of Richmond School of Law

** Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Richmond School of Law, and owner of The Ram Law Firm, P.L.L.C., in Richmond, Virginia

 

Wills, Trusts, and Estates

Wills, Trusts, and Estates

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Introduction

The 2021 Virginia General Assembly did not pass any major laws governing estates or trusts this year. However, it did pass several legislative efforts related to the field and of which practitioners should be aware. Perhaps the most relevant update given the COVID-19 pandemic was the Legislature’s effort to modernize procedures for electronic notarizations and electronic recording of documents. Another new law was designed to improve retirement savings participation rates in the Commonwealth by requiring certain employers to enroll their employees by default in a new, state-facilitated individual retirement account program. The Legislature also passed several bills designed to make it easier for disabled individuals to receive third-party support when making their own healthcare, financial, and personal decisions. New laws also expanded the class of parents and custodians who can designate a standby legal guardian for a minor and slightly modified the order of priority for beneficiaries in a wrongful death suit. Finally, the Legislature updated the Virginia Stock Corporation Act as it pertains to filing procedures and requirements, shareholder notice requirements, and the ability of directors to take emergency action. Although these changes were not technically substantive developments in the area of wills, trusts, and estates, attorneys should be mindful of them when advising their clients in ancillary corporate matters.

Katherine E. Ramsey *

Sarah J. Brownlow**

* Member, Virginia Estate & Trust Law, PLC, Richmond, Virginia. J.D., 1998, University of Virginia; M.S., 1988, Boston University; B.A., 1986, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

** Of Counsel, Virginia Estate & Trust Law, P.L.C., Richmond, Virginia. J.D., 2009, Vanderbilt University Law School; B.B.A., 2004, College of William & Mary.

 

 

Taxation

Taxation

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Introduction

 

This Article reviews significant recent developments in the laws affecting Virginia state and local taxation. Its Parts cover legislative activity, judicial decisions, and selected opinions and other pronouncements from the Virginia Department of Taxation (“Tax Department” or “Department of Taxation”) and the Attorney General of Virginia over the past year.

Part I of this Article addresses state taxes. Part II covers local taxes, including real and tangible personal property taxes, license taxes, and discrete local taxes.

The overall purpose of this Article is to provide Virginia tax and general practitioners with a concise overview of the recent developments in Virginia taxation that are most likely to impact their clients. However, it does not address many of the numerous minor, locality-specific, or technical legislative changes to Title 58.1 of the Virginia Code, which covers taxation.

 

Craig D. Bell *

* Partner, McGuireWoods LLP, Richmond, Virginia. LL.M., 1986, Marshall-Wythe School of Law, College of William & Mary; J.D., 1983, State University of New York at Buffalo; M.B.A., 1980, Syracuse University; B.S., 1979, Syracuse University. 

 

 

Juvenile Justice

Juvenile Justice

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Introduction

This Article serves as a review of recent juvenile justice law and legislative trends in Virginia. This Article will review both codified changes and relevant proposed legislation that did not pass the Legislature to more fully identify trends in juvenile justice. While this Article does not capture every proposed or codified change to Virginia juvenile justice law, it does identify and present the most significant changes and trends over the last two legislative sessions to the laws governing the entrance of youth into the criminal legal system, the treatment of Virginia’s youth directly involved in the criminal legal system, and the treatment of youth convicted or adjudicated delinquent by a Virginia tribunal and serving a sentence in a designated facility. This Article further discusses the potential ramifications of such legislative changes on youth and their families and what practitioners must be aware of when representing youth facing charges of unlawful behavior in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Valerie Slater*

*Executive Director, RISE for Youth Coalition. J.D., 2012, University of Richmond School of Law; B.A., 2009, Colorado State University.

 

Family Law

Family Law

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Introduction

This Article provides a practical update on recent changes in Virginia law in the family law realm, including, but not limited to, divorce, custody and visitation, adoption, child support, and equitable distribution of assets and debts. There have been significant legislative amendments regarding the divorce process with the introduction of the Uniform Collaborative Law Act as well as the removal of the corroborating witness requirement for no-fault divorce matters. This succinct synopsis outlines legislative changes as well as significant judicial decisions within the past year.

Rachel A. DeGraba*

* J.D., 2017, University of Richmond School of Law; B.A., 2014, James Madison University. Thank you to Professor Allison A. Tait and Mary Burkey Owens, Esq., for their encouragement and guidance.

 

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