CaseCOMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA v. GRAFTON WILLIAM PETERSON, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF ERIN NICOLE PETERSON, DECEASED, ET AL.
(Record Number 121717)
FromThe Circuit Court of Montgomery County; W. N. Alexander, II, Judge.
CounselPatricia L. West, Wesley G. Russell, Jr., E. Duncan Getchell, Jr., Peter R. Messitt, and Mike F. Melis (Office of the Attorney General) and William G. Broaddus and Jeremy S. Byrum(McGuireWoods LLP) for appellant.
L. Steven Emmert (Sykes, Bourdon, Ahern & Levy, P.C.) and Robert T. Hall (Hall and Sethi, P.L.C.) for appellees.
Assignments of Error
- The circuit court erred in finding that the Commonwealth, Virginia Tech, and/or their employees had a special relationship with Peterson and Pryde that imposed a duty, and therefore, erred in instructing the jury that there was such a duty, in submitting the case to the jury and in entering judgment on the jury’s verdict.
- Even assuming that the Commonwealth, Virginia Tech or their employees had a relevant special relationship under Virginia law, the evidence adduced did not give rise to a duty to warn of third party criminal acts, and therefore, the circuit court erred in submitting the case to the jury and in entering judgment on the jury’s verdict.
- The circuit court erred in finding that there was sufficient evidence regarding causation to raise a jury issue, and therefore, erred in submitting the case to the jury and in entering judgment on the jury’s verdict.
- Even if there were a theory that might have allowed plaintiffs to recover, the circuit court’s instructions (2, 3, 4, 10 & 11) misstated Virginia law regarding the existence of a relevant special relationship, the existence and type of duty purportedly owed, the standard that triggers a duty to warn of third party criminal acts, as well as regarding the reasonable expectation of parents and students at a university, and therefore, the jury’s verdict must be overturned.