Virginia: Medical Malpractice – a Lawyer’s Non-Suit

Virginia: Medical Malpractice – a Lawyer’s Non-Suit

The medical malpractice lawsuit of Marshall v. Moniz, No. CL08-2018 in York Circuit Court, initially was filed in Williamsburg/James City County and non-suited after the refilling in York County, Virginia. Defendants have filed a Special Plea and Demurrer for dismissal with prejudice based on that litigation history.

The Supreme Court of Virginia already has countenanced the exact procedure postural of the Marshall medical malpractice suit. Plaintiffs are entitled to file one action, file a second action in another jurisdiction, non-suit the first action, and proceed with the second action in the different jurisdiction. Moore v. Gills¸ 239 Va. 239 (1990). Cf.Smith v. Ellis, 28 Va. Cir. 180 (Richmond May 21, 1992).

“An ‘action’ and a ‘cause of action’ are quite different. ‘Action’ is defined [as ‘all civil proceedings whether at law, in equity, or statutory in nature’]. We defined ‘cause of action’ . . . as ‘a set of operative facts which under substantive law, may give rise to a right of action’.” Trout v. Commonwealth Transp. Comm’r of Virginia, 241 Va. 69, 73 (1991).

“Nonsuit remains. . . distinctly a weapon in the arsenal of a plaintiff.” Id. “The effect of a nonsuit is simply to put an end to the present action, but is no bar to a subsequent action for the same cause.” Gemmell, Inc. v. Svea Fire and Life Ins. Co., 166 Va. 95, 97 (1936). Cf., Virginia Concrete Co. v. Bd. of Sup’rs, 197 Va. 821, 826 (1956). “[T]he only effect of a non-suit is to put an end to the pending litigation without prejudice to either party.” Tysons Toyota, Inc. v. Globe Life Ins. Co., 1994 U.S. App. LEXIS 36692, * 19 (4th Cir. 1994); Winchester Homes, Inc. v. Osmose Wood Preserving, Inc., 37 F.3d 1053, 1058 (4th Cir. 1994); Umphreyville v. Gittins, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 454, * 5 (W.D. Va. Jan 6, 2009); Monroe v. City of Charlottesville; 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20027, *5 (W.D. Va. 2006); Poullah v. Rzasa, 75 Va. Cir. 349, 352 (Fairfax Jul. 15, 2008); Cook v. Wayland, 64 Va. Cir. 386, 387 (Waynesboro Apr. 26, 2004); Odeneal v. Thompson, 63 Va. Cir. 71, 73 ( Fairfax Aug. 6, 2003); Green v. Barnes, 54 Va. Cir. 348, 350 (Portsmouth Jan 4. 2001).

Thus in the medical malpractice case of Marshall, Plaintiff’s non-suit of his first action was not a dismissal with prejudice of his underlying cause of action. It simply put an end to that first action without prejudice to Plaintiff pursuing his subsequent action on the same cause of action.