Thomas E. Albro honored by VTLA with the Lifetime Achievement Award

At the Greenbrier on April 1, 2017, Thomas E. Albro received the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is one of the highest honors bestowed by the VTLA, and has been awarded only three other times since its inception. The VTLA Lifetime Achievement Award is meant to “recognize a lawyer in practice in the Commonwealth of Virginia for more than 25 years who has exercised effective leadership within VTLA and who has demonstrated lifelong dedication to VTLA’s mission and principles.” Other criteria for the award require that the recipient’s work “demonstrates a compassion and commitment to advocacy on behalf of consumers” and that the individual has “contributed to the advancement of the profession and served the public through teaching, community service, charitable giving or other pro bono work.” Previous recipients of the award are Richard Railey, Sr., Bob Hall, and Betty A. Thompson....

The Doctrine of Qualified Immunity

Recent well-publicized reports of citizens being injured or killed by police officers have produced public discourse on what civil liability law enforcement officers face for the use of excessive force. The pattern of grievous personal injury followed by administrative leave, no criminal charges, and an eventual return to employment has left the families of Eric Garner, Philando Castile, and Alton Sterling asking what civil remedies are available against law enforcement officers. The chief source of tort liability for excessive force cases is 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides a civil action for money damages “to any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof [for] the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws. . . .”[1] The United States Supreme Court has interpreted 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to create tort liability for police officers acting outside the scope of their lawful authority.[2] But even though police officers can be sued for violating civil rights, victims and their families seeking monetary compensation must still overcome a high hurdle before their cases will be heard: the doctrine of qualified immunity. There are various kinds of governmental immunity under the law. Federal and state governments, for example, are protected by what is called sovereign immunity, which protects them from suit unless they have passed legislation specifically allowing them to be sued.[3] “The doctrine of sovereign immunity from suit, rooted in the ancient common law, was originally based on the monarchical, semireligious tenet that ‘the King can do no wrong.’”[4] Both the federal government and the Commonwealth of Virginia have waived their sovereign immunity in...

Thomas E. Albro awarded the Civility and Professionalism Award by the VADA

  This month Thomas E. Albro was awarded the 2016 VADA-VTLA Civility and Professionalism Award by the Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys. Mr. Albro is the inaugural recipient of the award, which will be presented annually to a plaintiff’s attorney chosen by the VADA and to a defense attorney selected by the VTLA. The recipients of the award are decided by a vote of the members of the VADA and VTLA. In relation to the award, the VADA observed, “Tom Albro exemplifies the highest standards of integrity and ethical conduct. His distinguished career is proof that being a zealous advocate and upholding the highest standards of civility and professionalism are not mutually...

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress in Virginia

Plaintiffs in defamation, insulting words, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, and other kinds of lawsuits in which no physical injuries are alleged will frequently add a count to their complaint for intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED). This choice may better reflect their attorney’s desire to be thorough and pursue every potential cause of action rather than any confidence in its chance to succeed on the merits, or even to overcome the inevitable demurrer. In the view of the Supreme Court of Virginia “there are inherent problems in proving a claim alleging injury to the mind or emotions in the absence of accompanying physical injury,” and the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress is not favored.[1] Without a physical injury, a plaintiff can only rarely recover for IIED. This article uses case examples to demonstrate what elements the Supreme Court of Virginia has held the plaintiff must prove in order to recover for intentional infliction of emotional distress. A cause of action for IIED, unaccompanied by physical injury, will lie when: One, the wrongdoer’s conduct was intentional or reckless. This element is satisfied where the wrongdoer had the specific purpose of inflicting emotional distress or where he intended his specific conduct and knew or should have known that emotional distress would likely result. Two, the conduct was outrageous and intolerable in that it offends against the generally accepted standards of decency and morality. This requirement is aimed at limiting frivolous suits and avoiding litigation in situations where only bad manners and mere hurt feelings are involved. Three, there was a causal connection between the wrongdoer’s conduct and the...

Social Media Defamation in Virginia

Facebook, the largest social media network in the world, published about thirty-one million messages and posts per minute in 2015. Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin boast smaller numbers, but not by much. As social networks have expanded, so have the cases in which plaintiffs have successfully recovered damages for defamatory statements made on social media sites. Cases like Courtney Love’s have even created new terms of art in defamation, like ‘Twibel,’ which means a libelous statement made on the Twitter platform. The important thing to remember about social media defamation is that there are no special legal rules for social media postings. However, there are often special considerations for measuring damages caused by defamatory social media posts.   The Law of Social Media Defamation The standard for whether a statement is defamatory in Virginia is the same for social media posts as by any other method of publication. To support a defamation action, Virginia requires the plaintiff to show that the defendant issued: a publication about the plaintiff containing an actionable statement with the requisite intent. Fleming v. Moore, 221 Va. 884, 275 S.E.2d 632 (1981). (Note: This is a simplified version of the law of defamation in Virginia). Whether the statement was made on an e-mail listserv, by handwritten letter, or by P.A. system, the basic requirements for defamation are the same. Contrary to what some defendants might believe, statements made on social media are no less “serious” than defamatory statements that are published by media outlets.   Measuring Damages in Social Media Cases The normal rules of defamation law apply to social media posts, but there are special...

Three Tremblay & Smith, PLLC Attorneys Named to 2015 Best Lawyers® in America List

Tremblay & Smith, PLLC is pleased to announce that three lawyers have been named to the 2015 Edition of Best Lawyers®, the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession. Best Lawyers has published their list for over three decades, earning the respect of the profession, the media, and the public as the most reliable, unbiased source of legal referrals. Its first international list was published in 2006 and since then has grown to provide lists in over 65 countries. “Best Lawyers is the most effective tool in identifying critical legal expertise,” said President and Co-Founder Steven Naifeh. “Inclusion on this list shows that an attorney is respected by his or her peers for professional success.” Lawyers on the Best Lawyers in America© list are divided by geographic region and practice areas. They are reviewed by their peers on the basis of professional expertise, and undergo an authentication process to make sure they are in current practice and in good standing. Tremblay & Smith, PLLC would like to congratulate the following attorneys named to the 2015 Best Lawyers in America list: Thomas E. Albro, Legal Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs Thomas E. Albro, Media Law Thomas E. Albro, Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs Thomas E. Albro, Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs M. E. Gibson, Jr., Communications Law M. E. Gibson, Jr., Corporate Law John K. Taggart III, Collaborative Law: Family Law John K. Taggart III, Family Law...

Know Your Local Rules Governing Motions Practice

For those attorneys who practice primarily in one jurisdiction, the local rules of the general district or circuit court often are little more than an afterthought.  Whether it is in a city or county where an official set of rules is published, or a locality governed by less formal customary practices, it takes very little time for the repeat practitioner to know the standard procedure for motions practice like the back of her hand. But for theVirginialawyer who practices in jurisdictions across the state, familiarity with the ins and outs of motions practice in any one city or county can prove more of a challenge.  All attorneys should be armed with Virginia Supreme Court Rule 4:15, which governs motions practice, including how to properly notice presentation of a motion and applicable page limits and filing deadlines for briefs, in circuit courts across the state.  While adherence to this Rule is essential, depending on the locality, it often does not tell the whole story of how and when motions should be filed, noticed and briefed. Va. Code § 8.01-4 authorizes general district and circuit courts to prescribe rules for their respective districts and circuits that are “necessary to promote proper order and decorum and the efficient and safe use of courthouse facilities and clerk’s offices.”  Far from providing the courts carte blanche in rulemaking, however, the statute prohibits any rules that are inconsistent with any statute, Supreme Court rule, or decided case.  It further prohibits any rule that would abridge the substantive rights of any person before the court, and provides that local docket control procedures may not “deprive any...

The Best Lawyers in America® 2013

PRESS RELEASE: M. E. (Dick) Gibson, Thomas E. Albro, John K. Taggart, III and Patricia D. McGraw were recently selected by their peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2013(Copyright 2009 by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, S.C.). Since its inception in 1983, Best Lawyers has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Because Best Lawyers is based on an exhaustive peer-review survey in which more than 32,000 leading attorneys cast almost two million votes on the legal abilities of other lawyers in their practice areas, and because lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed, inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor. Corporate Counsel magazine has called Best Lawyers “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice.” It is important to note that the lawyers listed in Best Lawyers have no say in deciding which practice areas they are included in. They are voted into practice areas entirely as a result of the votes they receive from their peers. The subspecialties listed after their names are based on information from a variety of sources....

Appendectomy didn’t remove appendix, caused colon problems

Plaintiff underwent an intended laparoscopic appendectomy which did not remove his appendix, but instead resulted in the transaction of his sigmoid colon. After two days of drainage to his abdomen through the open sigmoid, plaintiff became quite ill and returned to the UVA hospital. He underwent a nine-hour operation to find out what was wrong, including an unsuccessful attempt to reconnect his colon. The surgery ended with the placement of a colostomy… Read More at Virginia Lawyers Weekly Type of action: Medical malpractice Injuries alleged: Transection of the sigmoid colon and other abdominal injuries Name of case: Jones v. UVA Health Services Foundation Court: Albemarle County Circuit Court Special damages: $383,558 Verdict or settlement: Settlement Amount: $1,500,000 Attorney for plaintiff: Thomas E. Albro, Charlottesville Insurance carrier: Piedmont Liability...

Patient, doctor dispute complaints, symptoms related to chest infection

Plaintiff, a middle-aged man in good health, awoke one night with chills and body aches. Plaintiff was seen by defendants the following day. On that initial visit, plaintiff was offered a chest X-ray, but declined. Defendants prescribed amoxicillin and sent him home. During the two-month period following his initial visit, the plaintiff was seen by the defendants on multiple visits for his continuing respiratory symptoms. Defendants never made a definitive diagnosis. Plaintiff and defendants offered conflicting testimony as to the symptoms and complaints reported to the defendants by the plaintiff, … Read More at Virginia Lawyers Weekly Type of action: Medical malpractice Injuries alleged: Failure to diagnose and treat pneumonia and other respiratory ailments, causing the partial loss of plaintiff’s left lung Name of case: Confidential Verdict or Settlement: Settlement Amount: $475,000 Attorney for plaintiff: Thomas E. Albro,...