Friday, March 02, 2007

Today's Supreme Court opinions

Steve Emmert has the lowdown on today's opinions from the Virginia Supreme Court.

The limitations ruling in Lambert v. Javed seems to be a step back towards what I thought the law was, before I read Hughes v. Doe from the last round of opinions.

In Hughes, the Court took the bogus route of explaining that a dismissal without prejudice was not "on the merits" and therefore dismissal as to the agent did not preclude liability of the principal.

In Lambert, the Court now says that the dismissal with prejudice based on limitations, even though it is not "on the merits," is enough to support res judicata as between the parties to the earlier dismissal, which is the opposite of what I feared would be the result of Hughes.

I think Justice Kinser has got it right when she wrote in her concurrence: "In my view, a dismissal with prejudice not only extinguishes the viability of a plaintiff’s claim but also is 'generally as conclusive of the parties' rights as if the action had been tried on the merits with a final disposition adverse to the plaintiff.'"

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