Friday's property law cases from the Virginia Supreme Court

In Barter Foundation v. Widener, the Court in an opinion by Justice Koontz affirmed Judge Flannagan's ruling against the Barter on the issue of whether it could keep the public off property that was dedicated as a public right-of-way but never formally accepted by the Town. The right-of-way had been of record since 1944 but never used. Byrum Giesler argued for the Barter, Mike Bragg argued for the appellees.

In Jones v. Peacock, the Court in an opinion by Justice Lacy held that the trial court had erred in concluding that the petitioners' father was incompetent to claim an elective share of his wife's augmented estate. The Court concluded that "that the distinct nature of an election warrants a level of competency uniquely connected to that act." Strangely enough, having decided on the legal standard, since the parties agreed all the evidence was in the form of depositions, the Court went on to decide the merits of the case, which strikes me as a bit unusual. Is that how the Supreme Court deals with equitable distribution cases, I wonder?

In River Heights Associates Limited Partnership v. Batten, the Court in an opinion by Senior Justice Carrico affirmed the trial court's rulings in a declaratory judgment action regarding the enforceability of restrictive covenants proscribing commercial use of real estate along U.S. Route 29 north of Charlottesville. The trial court held the covenants were enforceable, and on appeal, the Court agreed that the declaratory judgment action was proper and that the ruling on the merits was correct.

In Richardson v. AMRESCO Mortgage Corp., the Court in an opinion by Justice Keenan reversed the trial court's rulings on the application of the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act, and on the efficacy of a quitclaim deed, in a case the custodian of a minor had tried to transfer real property from the minor's estate.

In Dogwood Valley Citizens' Assoc. v. Winkelman, the Court in an opinion by Chief Justice Hassell considered the question of "whether a non-stock Virginia corporation is a property owners' association within the intendment of the Property Owners' Association Act," and concluded that it was not, because it had no duty to maintain roads and common areas.