On April 21, 2016, the Virginia Supreme Court handed down an important opinion on Va. Code § 8.01-335(B). The Court held that a trial judge does not have discretion when a plaintiff seeks reinstatement of his or her case within a one-year time period. The Court was persuaded by the intended purpose of the statute, due process arguments, and the legislative history.
The Virginia Trial Lawyers Association wrote an amicus brief in support of this decision, and the Court concluded, “This understanding is consistent with the general purpose of the statute: to allow courts to periodically purge their dockets of actions not being actively prosecuted. Because the statute does not provide for notice or an opportunity to be heard before such cases are discontinued or dismissed, liberally granting motions to reinstate comports with notions of due process and access to the justice system.”
Personal injury attorney, Nathan Veldhuis, notes the importance of this opinion in personal injury cases. “There are times, for a variety of reasons, that cases can lie dormant for a long period of time. Applying the purpose of the statute and other factors, the Virginia Supreme Court has made it clear that if a personal injury plaintiff desires to reinstate her case within a one year time period, after a case has been struck after three years of inactivity, a trial court judge has no discretion to deny it.”