Virginia: Car Accident – a Lawyer’s Bankruptcy

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On February 16, 2017, the Virginia Supreme Court affirmed grant of summary judgment by Danville Circuit Court in the motor vehicle car crash case, Ricketts v. Strange, No. 160311. Id. at 10. Personal injury plaintiff lacked standing because after filing for bankruptcy protection following her auto collision, she failed properly to exempt her negligence claim from the bankruptcy estate. Id. at 8.

Hence in Ricketts the vehicle accident claim was assertable only by the bankruptcy trustee for the estate. Id. at 9. The Virginia Supreme Court concluded further that it was not error to deny plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend her negligence complaint to substitute the trustee for her under the misnomer statute, Va. Code §8.01-6 (since the right person was not named initially), or under Va. S. Ct. Rule 3:17 (since the plaintiff lacked standing to file suit in the first place). Id. at 9-10.

Notably, Ricketts observed gratuitously that plaintiff could have cured the defect simply by nonsuiting her case and timely refiling a new action in the trustee’s name. Id. at 10. But plaintiff failed to do so.