Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Graham v. Community Management Corp.

Supreme Court of Virginia

October 12, 2017

HEATHER GRAHAM
v.
COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT CORPORATION

         FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF FAIRFAX COUNTY Jan L. Brodie, Judge

          OPINION

          STEPHEN R. McCULLOUGH JUSTICE.

         Heather Graham challenges the trial court's dismissal of her action, which sought to recover attorney's fees she incurred in defending a prior action. The trial court held that Rule 3:25 "precluded [her] from requesting attorney's fees because she failed to request said fees in the underlying litigation." We agree with the trial court, and affirm the judgment.

         BACKGROUND

         Graham worked for the Community Management Corporation as its Chief Executive Officer. Her employment contract contained a clause requiring her to keep certain information confidential. A separate Confidentiality Agreement provided that "[i]n the event that an action is brought for relief under the provisions of this paragraph, the prevailing party shall be entitled to an award of its attorney's fees."

         When Graham obtained employment elsewhere, the Community Management Corporation filed a complaint in which it alleged that Graham had breached her obligation of confidentiality with respect to its proprietary information. Among other things, it asked for "attorney['s] fees incurred in connection with its prosecution of the action for breach of the Confidentiality Agreement." Graham filed a number of responsive pleadings, including two demurrers, several pleas in bar, and an answer. She did not, however, ask for attorney's fees in any of these pleadings. Graham obtained a defense verdict.

         Following the conclusion of that case, Graham filed a new action of her own against the Community Management Corporation in which she demanded that her former employer pay the attorney's fees she incurred in defending the earlier action. The defendant demurred, arguing that Rule 3:25 required Graham to seek fees in the first suit, and her failure to ask for them in that case constituted a waiver. The circuit court agreed and dismissed Graham's complaint. This appeal followed.

         ANALYSIS

         "We review questions of law de novo." Amin v. County of Henrico, 286 Va. 231, 235, 749 S.E.2d 169, 170 (2013). "A lower court's interpretation of the Rules of this Court, like its interpretation of a statute, presents a question of law that we review de novo." Id.

         Rule 3:25, captioned "Claims for Attorney's Fees" provides:

A. Scope of Rule. This rule applies to claims for attorney's fees, excluding (i) attorney's fees under § 8.01-271.1 of the Code of Virginia, and (ii) attorney's fees in domestic relations cases.
B. Demand. A party seeking to recover attorney's fees shall include a demand therefor in the complaint filed pursuant to Rule 3:2, in a counterclaim filed pursuant to Rule 3:9, in a cross-claim filed pursuant to Rule 3:10, in a third-party pleading filed pursuant to Rule 3:13, or in a responsive pleading filed pursuant to Rule 3:8. The demand must identify the basis upon which the party relies in requesting attorney's fees.
C. Waiver. The failure of a party to file a demand as required by this rule constitutes a waiver by the party of the claim for attorney's fees, unless leave to file an amended pleading seeking attorney's fees is granted under Rule 1:8.
D. Procedure. Upon the motion of any party, the court shall, or upon its own motion, the court may, in advance of trial, establish a procedure to adjudicate ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.