Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 8.01. Civil Remedies and Procedure
Subtitle .
Chapter 13. Certain Incidents of Trial

Chapter 13. Certain Incidents of Trial.

§ 8.01-374. Procedure when original papers in cause are lost.

If in any case the original papers therein, or any of them, or the record for or in an appellate court, or any paper filed or connected with such record, be lost or destroyed, any party to such case may present to the court wherein the case is, or in which it would or ought to be, but for such loss or destruction, a petition verified by affidavit stating such loss or destruction, and praying that such case be heard and determined or tried on the reproduction of such record or papers, or satisfactory proof of their contents. Upon such petition and an authenticated copy of what is lost or destroyed, the court may hear and determine the case, or proceed to a trial thereof, if before a jury. The court may also hear and determine the case, or proceed to the trial thereof, if before a jury, upon proof, after reasonable notice to the parties interested, of the contents of such record or papers, or so much thereof, as may be necessary for a decision by the court, or by a jury, and may make such order or decree as if the papers or any of them had not been lost or destroyed.

The court may in its discretion, require new pleadings to be made up in whole or in part.

A plaintiff instead of proceeding under this section may commence and prosecute a new suit for the same matter; and no certified copy of any deed, will, account, or other original paper required by law to be recorded shall be used by any party as evidence for him, in any case when the original deed, will, account, or other original paper or record thereof has been destroyed, until such copy has been properly admitted to record, according to law. This section shall not apply to criminal cases.

Code 1950, § 8-209; 1977, c. 617.

§ 8.01-374.1. Consolidation or bifurcation of issues or claims in certain cases; appeal.

A. In any circuit court in which there are pending more than forty civil actions against manufacturers or suppliers of asbestos or products for industrial use that contain asbestos in which recovery is sought for personal injury or wrongful death alleged to have been caused by exposure to asbestos or products for industrial use that contain asbestos, the court may order a joint hearing or trial by jury of any or all common questions of law or fact which are at issue in those actions. The court may order any or all the actions consolidated, unless the court finds consolidation would adversely affect the rights of the parties to a fair trial. The court may submit special interrogatories to the jury to resolve specific issues of fact, and may make such orders concerning proceedings therein consistent with the right of each of the parties to a fair trial as may be appropriate to avoid unnecessary costs, duplicative litigation or delay.

B. To further convenience or avoid prejudice in such consolidated hearings, when separate or bifurcated trials will be conducive to judicial economy, the court may order a separate or bifurcated trial of any claim, or any number of claims, cross-claims, counterclaims, third-party claims, or separate issues, always preserving the right of trial by jury. However, in any such bifurcated proceeding, the entitlement of an individual plaintiff to an award of punitive damages against any defendant shall not be determined unless compensatory damages have been awarded to that individual.

C. Any order entered pursuant to this section shall, for purposes of appeal, be an interlocutory order. Any findings of the court or jury in any bifurcated trial shall not be appealable until a final order adjudicating all issues on a specific claim or consolidated group of claims has been entered.

D. This section shall not apply to actions arising under Article 6 (§ 8.01-57 et seq.) of Chapter 3 of this title or the Federal Employers Liability Act (45 U.S.C. § 51 et seq.). In addition, this section shall not apply to any party defendant unless that defendant was a manufacturer of, or a supplier of, asbestos or products for industrial use that contain asbestos, at any of the times alleged in the motion for judgment.

1992, c. 615.

§ 8.01-375. Exclusion of witnesses in civil cases (Subsection (a) of Supreme Court Rule 2:615 derived in part from this section and subsection (b) of Supreme Court Rule 2:615 derived from this section).

The court trying any civil case may upon its own motion, and shall upon the motion of any party, require the exclusion of every witness. However, the following shall be exempt from the rule of this section as a matter of right: (i) each named party who is an individual; (ii) one officer or agent of each party that is a public or private corporation, partnership, association, governmental agency, or other entity; (iii) an attorney alleged in a habeas corpus proceeding to have acted ineffectively; and (iv) in an unlawful detainer action filed in general district court, a managing agent as defined in § 55.1-1200.

Where expert witnesses are to testify in the case, the court may, at the request of all parties, allow one expert witness for each party to remain in the courtroom; however, in cases pertaining to the distribution of marital property pursuant to § 20-107.3 or the determination of child or spousal support pursuant to § 20-108.1, the court may, upon motion of any party, allow one expert witness for each party to remain in the courtroom throughout the hearing.

Code 1950, § 8-211.1; 1966, c. 268; 1975, c. 652; 1977, c. 617; 1986, c. 36; 1987, c. 70; 2001, c. 348; 2006, c. 757; 2016, c. 281; 2023, c. 615.

§ 8.01-376. Views by juries.

The jury may, in any civil case, at the request of either party, be taken to view the premises or place in question, or any property, matter or thing relating to the controversy between the parties, when it shall appear to the court that such view is necessary to a just decision; provided that the expenses of the jury and the officers who attend them in taking the view shall be afterwards taxed like other legal costs.

Code 1950, § 8-216; 1977, c. 617; 1978, c. 367.

§ 8.01-377. Remedy when variance appears between evidence and allegations.

If, at the trial of any action, there appears to be a variance between the evidence and the allegations or recitals, the court, if it consider that substantial justice will be promoted and that the opposite party cannot be prejudiced thereby, may allow the pleadings to be amended, on such terms as to the payment of costs or postponement of the trial, or both, as it may deem reasonable. Or, instead of the pleadings being amended, the court may direct the jury to find the facts, and, after such finding, if it consider the variance such as could not have prejudiced the opposite party, shall give judgment according to the right of the case.

Code 1950, § 8-217; 1977, c. 617.

§ 8.01-377.1. Summary judgment.

In any action at law or equity at the close of all the evidence, any party may move for a summary judgment upon the entire case or upon any severable issue including the issue of liability alone although there is a genuine issue as to damages.

1990, c. 628.

§ 8.01-378. Trial judge not to direct verdicts.

In no action tried before a jury shall the trial judge give to the jury a peremptory instruction directing what verdict the jury shall render. If the trial judge has granted a motion to strike the evidence of the plaintiff or the defendant, the judge shall enter summary judgment or partial summary judgment in conformity with his ruling on the motion to strike.

Code 1950, § 8-218; 1958, c. 208; 1977, c. 617; 1985, c. 214; 1986, c. 253.

§ 8.01-379. Argument before jury.

Counsel's right to argument before a jury is preserved.

1977, c. 617.

§ 8.01-379.1. Informing jury of amounts sued for.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any party in any civil action may inform the jury of the amount of damages sought by the plaintiff in the opening statement or closing argument, or both. The plaintiff may request an amount which is less than the ad damnum in the motion for judgment.

1988, c. 321; 1993, c. 615.

§ 8.01-379.2. Jury instructions.

A proposed jury instruction submitted by a party, which constitutes an accurate statement of the law applicable to the case, shall not be withheld from the jury solely for its nonconformance with the model jury instructions.

1992, c. 522.

§ 8.01-379.2:1. Spoliation of evidence.

A. A party or potential litigant has a duty to preserve evidence that may be relevant to reasonably foreseeable litigation. In determining whether and at what point such a duty to preserve arose, the court shall include in its consideration the totality of the circumstances, including the extent to which the party or potential litigant was on notice that specific and identifiable litigation was likely and that the evidence would be relevant.

B. If evidence that should have been preserved in the anticipation or conduct of litigation is lost because a party failed to take reasonable steps to preserve it, or is otherwise disposed of, altered, concealed, destroyed, or not preserved, and it cannot be restored or replaced through additional discovery, the court (i) upon finding prejudice to another party from such loss, disposal, alteration, concealment, or destruction of the evidence, may order measures no greater than necessary to cure the prejudice, or (ii) only upon finding that the party acted recklessly or with the intent to deprive another party of the evidence's use in the litigation, may (a) presume that the evidence was unfavorable to the party, (b) instruct the jury that it may or shall presume that the evidence was unfavorable to the party, or (c) dismiss the action or enter a default judgment.

C. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as creating an independent cause of action for negligent or intentional spoliation of evidence.

2019, c. 732.

§ 8.01-379.3. General verdict accompanied by answer to interrogatories.

Except in actions for negligence resulting in injury to person or death by wrongful act, in civil actions when the court determines that the complexity of the issues warrant, the court may submit to the jury, together with appropriate forms for a general verdict, written interrogatories upon one or more issues of fact the decision of which is necessary to a verdict. In actions for negligence resulting in injury to person or death by wrongful act, the court shall submit to the jury a general verdict form only, provided that the court may submit interrogatories to the jury if otherwise specifically authorized by law, if under substantive law governing the case comparative negligence applies, or if all parties to the action agree that interrogatories may be submitted to the jury. The court shall give such explanation or instruction as may be necessary to enable the jury both to make answers to the interrogatories and to render a general verdict, and the court shall direct the jury both to make written answers and to render a general verdict. When the general verdict and the answers are consistent, the appropriate judgment upon the verdict and answers shall be entered by the court. When the answers are consistent with each other but one or more is inconsistent with the general verdict, or when the answers are inconsistent with each other and one or more is likewise inconsistent with the general verdict, judgment shall not be entered and the court shall either order the jury to further consider its answers and verdict or order a new trial.

2005, c. 499.

§ 8.01-380. Dismissal of action by nonsuit; fees and costs.

A. A party shall not be allowed to suffer a nonsuit as to any cause of action or claim, or any other party to the proceeding, unless he does so before a motion to strike the evidence has been sustained or before the jury retires from the bar or before the action has been submitted to the court for decision. After a nonsuit no new proceeding on the same cause of action or against the same party shall be had in any court other than that in which the nonsuit was taken, unless that court is without jurisdiction, or not a proper venue, or other good cause is shown for proceeding in another court, or when such new proceeding is instituted in a federal court. If after a nonsuit an improper venue is chosen, the court shall not dismiss the matter but shall transfer it to the proper venue upon motion of any party.

B. Only one nonsuit may be taken to a cause of action or against the same party to the proceeding, as a matter of right, although the court may allow additional nonsuits upon reasonable notice to counsel of record for all defendants and upon a reasonable attempt to notify any party not represented by counsel, or counsel may stipulate to additional nonsuits. The court, in the event additional nonsuits are allowed, may assess costs and reasonable attorney fees against the nonsuiting party. When suffering a nonsuit, a party shall inform the court if the cause of action has been previously nonsuited. Any order effecting a subsequent nonsuit shall reflect all prior nonsuits and shall include language that reflects the date of any previous nonsuit together with the court in which any previous nonsuit was taken.

C. If notice to take a nonsuit of right is given to the opposing party within seven days of trial or during trial, the court in its discretion may assess against the nonsuiting party reasonable witness fees and travel costs of expert witnesses scheduled to appear at trial, which are actually incurred by the opposing party, solely by reason of the failure to give notice at least seven days prior to trial. The court shall have the authority to determine the reasonableness of expert witness fees and travel costs. Invoices, receipts, or confirmation of payment shall be admissible to prove reasonableness without the need to offer testimony to support the authenticity or reasonableness of such documents, and may, in the court's discretion, satisfy the reasonableness requirement under this subsection. Nothing herein shall preclude any party from offering additional evidence or testimony to support or rebut the reasonableness requirement.

D. A party shall not be allowed to nonsuit a cause of action, without the consent of the adverse party who has filed a counterclaim, cross claim or third-party claim which arises out of the same transaction or occurrence as the claim of the party desiring to nonsuit unless the counterclaim, cross claim or third-party claim can remain pending for independent adjudication by the court.

E. A voluntary nonsuit taken pursuant to this section is subject to the tolling provisions of subdivision E 3 of § 8.01-229.

F. Upon the timely perfection of an appeal from a judgment of a general district court, pursuant to § 16.1-106, a party may suffer a nonsuit as otherwise set forth in this section, and such nonsuit shall annul the judgment of the general district court.

Code 1950, §§ 8-220, 8-244; 1954, cc. 333, 611; 1977, c. 617; 1983, c. 404; 1991, c. 19; 2001, c. 825; 2004, c. 362; 2007, cc. 179, 367; 2013, cc. 274, 366; 2014, c. 86; 2022, c. 206.

§ 8.01-381. What jury may carry out.

No pleadings may be carried from the bar by the jury. Exhibits may, by leave of court, be so carried by the jury. Upon request of any party, the court shall instruct the jury that they may request exhibits for use during deliberations. Exhibits requested by the jury shall be sent to the jury room or may otherwise be made available to the jury.

Code 1950, § 8-221; 1977, c. 617; 1992, c. 495.

§ 8.01-382. Verdict, judgment or decree to fix period at which interest begins; final order; judgment or decree for interest.

In any Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.) action or action at law or suit in equity, the final order, verdict of the jury, or if no jury the judgment or decree of the court, may provide for interest on any principal sum awarded, or any part thereof, and fix the period at which the interest shall commence. The final order, judgment or decree entered shall provide for such interest until such principal sum be paid. If a final order, judgment or decree be rendered which does not provide for interest, the final order, judgment or decree awarded or jury verdict shall bear interest at the judgment rate of interest as provided for in § 6.2-302 from its date of entry or from the date that the jury verdict was rendered. Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, any judgment entered for a sum due under a negotiable instrument, as defined by § 8.3A-104, shall provide for interest on the principal sum in accordance with § 8.3A-112 at the rate specified in the instrument. If no such rate is specified, interest on the principal sum shall be at the judgment rate provided in § 6.2-302. Final orders may be recorded, enforced, and satisfied as orders or decrees of a circuit court upon certification of such orders by the agency head or his designee.

Code 1950, § 8-223; 1964, c. 219; 1974, c. 172; 1975, c. 448; 1977, c. 617; 1979, c. 501; 1997, c. 551; 2004, c. 646; 2008, c. 219; 2009, c. 797.

§ 8.01-383. Power to grant new trial; how often.

In any civil case or proceeding, the court before which a trial by jury is had, may grant a new trial, unless it be otherwise specially provided. A new trial may be granted as well where the damages awarded are too small as where they are excessive. Not more than two new trials shall be granted to the same party in the same cause on the ground that the verdict is contrary to the evidence, either by the trial court or the appellate court, or both.

Code 1950, § 8-224; 1977, c. 617.

§ 8.01-383.1. Appeal when verdict reduced and accepted under protest; new trial for inadequate damages.

A. In any action at law in which the trial court requires a plaintiff to remit a part of his recovery, as ascertained by the verdict of a jury, or else submit to a new trial, such plaintiff may remit and accept judgment of the court thereon for the reduced sum under protest, but, notwithstanding such remittitur and acceptance, if under protest, may appeal the judgment of the court in requiring him to remit to the Court of Appeals. The defendant may appeal the judgment of the court in requiring such remittitur to the Court of Appeals, regardless of the amount. If an appeal is taken from the judgment of the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court, in matters in which it grants the petition for appeal, shall review the judgment, regardless of amount.

B. In any action at law when the court finds as a matter of law that the damages awarded by the jury are inadequate, the trial court may (i) award a new trial or (ii) require the defendant to pay an amount in excess of the recovery of the plaintiff found in the verdict. If either the plaintiff or the defendant declines to accept such additional award, the trial court shall award a new trial.

If additur pursuant to this subsection is accepted by either party under protest, it may be reviewed on appeal.

Code 1950, § 8-350; 1977, c. 617; 1994, c. 807; 1998, c. 861; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 489.

§ 8.01-384. Formal exceptions to rulings or orders of court unnecessary; motion for new trial unnecessary in certain cases.

A. Formal exceptions to rulings or orders of the court shall be unnecessary; but for all purposes for which an exception has heretofore been necessary, it shall be sufficient that a party, at the time the ruling or order of the court is made or sought, makes known to the court the action which he desires the court to take or his objections to the action of the court and his grounds therefor; and, if a party has no opportunity to object to a ruling or order at the time it is made, the absence of an objection shall not thereafter prejudice him on motion for a new trial or on appeal. No party, after having made an objection or motion known to the court, shall be required to make such objection or motion again in order to preserve his right to appeal, challenge, or move for reconsideration of, a ruling, order, or action of the court. No party shall be deemed to have agreed to, or acquiesced in, any written order of a trial court so as to forfeit his right to contest such order on appeal except by express written agreement in his endorsement of the order. Arguments made at trial via written pleading, memorandum, recital of objections in a final order, oral argument reduced to transcript, or agreed written statements of facts shall, unless expressly withdrawn or waived, be deemed preserved therein for assertion on appeal.

B. The failure to make a motion for a new trial in any case in which an appeal, writ of error, or supersedeas lies to or from a higher court shall not be deemed a waiver of any objection made during the trial if such objection be properly made a part of the record.

Code 1950, §§ 8-225, 8-225.1; 1970, c. 558; 1977, c. 617; 1992, c. 564.

§ 8.01-384.1. Interpreters for deaf or hard of hearing in civil proceedings.

In any civil proceeding in which a speech-impaired person or a person who is deaf or hard of hearing is a party or witness, the court may appoint a qualified interpreter to assist such person in the proceeding. The court shall appoint an interpreter for any speech-impaired person or person who is deaf or hard of hearing who requests this assistance.

Interpreters for the deaf and hard of hearing in these proceedings shall be procured through the Department for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing; if the Department cannot procure such services, then the court may appoint a readily available interpreter with full certification from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc., or an equivalent national certification. Such court-appointed interpreter's qualifications are subject to review and approval by the Department for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing.

Any person who is eligible for an interpreter pursuant to this section may waive the use of an interpreter appointed by the court for all or a portion of the proceedings. A person who waives his right to an interpreter may provide his own interpreter at his own expense without regard to whether the interpreter is qualified under this section.

The compensation of interpreters appointed pursuant to this section shall be fixed by the court and paid from the general fund of the state treasury or may, in the discretion of the court, be assessed as a part of the cost of the proceedings.

The provisions of this section shall apply in both circuit courts and district courts.

1982, c. 444; 2019, c. 288; 2023, cc. 415, 416.

§ 8.01-384.1:1. Interpreters for non-English-speaking persons in civil cases.

A. In any trial, hearing or other proceeding before a judge in a civil case in which a non-English-speaking person is a party or witness, an interpreter for the non-English-speaking person may be appointed by the court. A qualified English-speaking person fluent in the language of the non-English-speaking person may be appointed by the judge of the court in which the case is to be heard unless the non-English-speaking person shall obtain a qualified interpreter of his own choosing who is approved by the court as being competent.

B. To the extent of available appropriations, the compensation of such interpreter shall be fixed by the court in accordance with guidelines set by the Judicial Council of Virginia and shall be paid from the general fund of the state treasury as part of the expense of trial. The amount allowed by the court to the interpreter may, in the discretion of the court, be assessed against either party as a part of the cost of the case and, if collected, the same shall be paid to the Commonwealth.

C. Whenever a person communicates through an interpreter to any person under such circumstances that the communications would be privileged, and such persons could not be compelled to testify as to the communications, this privilege shall also apply to the interpreter. The provisions of this section shall apply in circuit courts and district courts.

1996, c. 559; 2003, c. 1011.

§ 8.01-384.2. Waiver of discovery time limitations by parties.

Parties involved in any civil litigation may, without court order and upon agreement of all of them or their counsel, waive any time limitations established by the Rules of the Virginia Supreme Court relating to any response to a motion or request for discovery or the scheduling of any discovery proceedings. The court shall allow any such waiver unless an order establishing discovery or filing deadlines has been entered previously by the court in the action.

1991, c. 75.