Paralegal Seminar Wednesday, Lunch & Learns continue, Annual Meeting details, a new Journal, and more...

VADA Defense Line July 2021

President's Welcome

              I hope everyone in our VADA family is having a safe and enjoyable summer.  It is exciting to be able to travel again.  Our family just returned from a week in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  I hope whatever you are doing that you can enjoy some time away with family and friends and stay cool. 

              The fall will be here before we know it.  My sons return to school in 2 weeks, and my wife, Shannon, a teacher, must start work in only 1 weeks, much to her chagrin.  While I am starting to mourn the end of summer, there is a lot I am looking forward to in the fall.  The return of William and Mary Football, of course, and … our Annual Meeting!  I am so excited about this year’s event.  We are at a beautiful brand-new property – the Marriott Resort Virginia Beach Oceanfront.  There are so many of you I have not seen face-to-face in too long.  Jim Cales, our Annual Meeting Chair, and his Committee have come up with a wonderful program full of CLEs and fun events. If you can, please join us for what I think will be a most memorable VADA Annual Meeting.

              If you have not done so already, please encourage your paralegals to sign up for our Paralegal Seminar, to be held virtually on July 28. 

             Our Lunch & Learns continue to be a huge hit! We recently heard from Ying Lu, PhD, and Vivek Shekhawat, PhD, of JS Held, who educated us on biomechanics. Join us on August 25, when Paul Mellor educates us on memory skills for lawyers, and on September 8 when Matt Kelley shares his insights on Retaining, Developing, and Safely Navigating Expert Witness Testimony.

              If I do not see you before, I cannot wait to see you in October on the oceanfront!

              Until then,

Tate C. Love
VADA President, 2020-21

There is still time to register for Wednesday's Paralegal Seminar

July 28
via Zoom

This must-attend event is back this year!

Designed specifically for paralegals of all levels working in civil defense firms, this webinar will help hone their skills as a valuable member of your legal team. Instructors include attorneys and senior paralegals from several Virginia defense firms. Your paralegals are invited to register here.

VADA 2021 Annual Meeting


October 20-22
Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront

Mark your calendar to join us in Virginia Beach for our Annual Meeting.  We hope you will join us at an exciting new Annual Meeting venue, located just steps from the beach. Registration will open soon, but you can make your hotel reservation now, using the online link on the Annual Meeting webpage

We'll offer an agenda full of cutting edge CLE programming designed to benefit your civil defense practice as you return to the courtroom.  On day one, we'll look at "Post-COVID Jury Trials," "The Use of Technology in the Courtroom," and "Being a Defense Lawyer." On Friday, we'll begin with our popular Breakfast with the Judiciary, followed by sessions on "Mediation and ADR," "Using Social Media in Discovery and at Trial," "Effective Motions Practice and Oral Advocacy," and finish with an ethics hour looking at "Attorney Mental Health." We'll also offer 2 hours of section breakouts in addition to our Awards Luncheon, and popular networking receptions and VADA Late Nites.

This year's meeting also offers many new and updated activities:

  • Wednesday night’s Dine Around Dutch-Treat Dinners with other VADA members at one of the many amazing restaurants at the beach.
  • A new Wellness Challenge running the month leading up to the conference, with daily activities, sponsored by our Wellness Committee.
  • A new Women's Section dinner on Thursday night.
  • Our community service project to collect children's books for Hampton Roads area libraries.
  • Many other opportunities to network, relax, and enjoy the company of your VADA friends and colleagues. 

For complete meeting details, please visit our Annual Meeting webpage. We hope to see you there!

Memory Skills for Lawyers
(1.0 HR CLE Requested)

Paul Mellor
Success Links
August 25

Nationally-recognized memory training consultant Paul Mellor will offer a session that will improve the way your mind retains facts.  Learn techniques to improve memory and learn how to apply these techniques to your everyday practice and in the  courtroom. A trained memory can increase your efficiency and productivity in all aspects of law.  Mr. Mellor will shred the myth that memory cannot be enhanced and help you lay a foundation for total recall. 

Invest in a better memory.  You have invested years in becoming an attorney and you invest months preparing a case.  Invest one lunch hour to strengthen your mind and achieve these goals: 

·Think quickly and clearly without fumbling for notes

· Remember important information about a jury and use it to win cases

· Effectively recall facts and figures from research and interview to argue cases in court.

The event is fully virtual, via Zoom, and open to current and potential VADA members.

Retaining, Developing, and Safely Navigating Expert Witness Testimony
(Requesting 1.0 HR CLE)

Matthew E. Kelley
Frith Anderson + Peake

September 8

Mr. Kelley will discuss how to locate and prepare experts from the start of your case through a trial.  You will learn about recent changes in the law to consider on expert bias and financial relationships.  Topics covered will include finding the right expert, providing an effective expert disclosure, and methods for attacking the opposing experts while insulating your client from similar challenges.  The battle of experts can win or lose cases and this seminar will provide concrete tips to help your client win the battle.   

The event is fully virtual, via Zoom, and open to current and potential VADA members.

VADA Email Server Issues

We recently moved our email to a new server. This change has caused many of our outgoing emails to be routed into members' junk or spam folders. Please check there for any missed emails from VADA staff. You should also add all VADA staff email address to your "safe senders" list.  The issue does not impact incoming emails to VADA. Contact Sherma Mather at with questions.

Journal of Civil Litigation

The Summer 2021 edition of the Journal of Civil Litigation is hot off the presses. If you are a VADA member, hopefully you have already received your copy in the mail. Remember that VADA members can always read and search by keyword all present and past editions of the Journal. If you are not a member, join now! The Journal of Civil Litigation is a law review quality quarterly publication and one of the many excellent benefits of being a VADA member.

This edition of the Journal includes four feature articles, including articles on:

  • The history of the med mal cap by Anthony S. Cottone and Raymond E. Escobar.
  • Ranked choice voting by Joseph M. Kurt and Gerald L. Harris.
  • Constructive service via a statutory agent by Danielle Matie Smith.
  • Coverage issues in construction defect litigation by Andrew Willis.

Also included are fifteen (15) judicial opinions from around the Commonwealth, carefully selected by our Editor-in-Chief, Kent Sinclair.

Many thanks to Kent, our Managing Editor Molly Terry, our Chief of the Board of Editors John D. Eure, and all of our editorial board for their tireless work to produce this invaluable resource.

Influential Women
of Law

Congratulations to VADA members Tracy Taylor Hague, Donna Hall, Elizabeth Perrow, and Mary Elizabeth Sherwin for being named by Virginia Lawyers Weekly to the 2021 Class of Influential Women of Law! Tracy, Donna, Elizabeth, and Mary Beth were celebrated with this year's other honorees during an online recognition program that was broadcast on YouTube on July 20. Each honoree also is profiled in a special July supplement in Virginia Lawyers Weekly.  Congratulations, again, Tracy, Donna, Elizabeth, and Mary Beth on an honor well deserved!

VADA Diversity Scholarship

As he wraps up his summer clerkship and looks forward to his final year at George Mason University—Antonin Scalia Law School, Alexis Romero reflects back on his experience as the 2021 recipient of VADA’s Diversity Scholarship:

“During the COVID-19 shutdowns, opportunities to gain hands-on legal experience decreased significantly. Thankfully, VADA was there with its broad coalition of defense attorneys across the Commonwealth. As VADA’s 2021 Summer Diversity Recipient, I was paired with Bancroft, McGavin, Horvath & Judkins – an excellent civil defense firm in Fairfax. There, I worked on projects and cases involving personal injuries, government immunity, Virginia Constitutional Law, model jury instructions – you name it. Partnering with VADA was the perfect decision for my legal education and career. I highly recommend their program to future students.”

Thank you, Alexis, for your kind words! Congratulations on a job well done!

VADA Children's Book Drive

ATTENTION VADA members and friends! In conjunction with our 2021 Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach this October, VADA is sponsoring a children’s book drive! Please join us as we collect new or gently used children’s books, infant through young adult.  All books collected benefit the public libraries in Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk, Chesapeake, and Suffolk.  As an added incentive, we are offering special recognition to the INDIVIDUAL who donates the most titles, as well as to the FIRM who donates the most books.  We will present these recognitions when the directors of the seven area libraries join us at the Marriott Resort Virginia Beach Oceanfront on Friday, October 22.  For complete details on our book drive, and to learn how you can contribute, visit here.

VADA Wellness Committee

The Wellness Committee 

By Melissa H. Katz

As lawyers, we love the thrill of victory.  Competition is engrained into our DNA.  Our brains light up like a pinball machine when we win.  It doesn’t matter if it is in the courtroom or playing sports.  Now imagine a competition in which you benefit both mentally and physically AND get the opportunity to win super cool prizes!  Where do you sign up?  It’s easy!  The VADA Wellness Committee is sponsoring a Wellness Challenge starting September 18 and ending on October 17, just before our upcoming VADA Annual Meeting (October 20-22, 2021).   This challenge is aimed at improving both your mental and physical fitness.   During the challenge period, a new daily wellness activity will be announced and each day you will need to track your steps.  The top three winners will be those who have the most steps AND completed each daily wellness activity. 

Stay tuned for more information and buckle up for some self-improvement and competitive fun! 

The newly formed VADA Wellness Committee includes Taylor Brewer of Moran Reeves & Conn, Jerry Harris of the Virginia Beach City Attorney’s office, Melissa Katz of Bancroft, McGavin, Horvath & Judkins, P.C., Juliane Miller of Harman, Claytor, Corrigan & Wellman, P.C., and Nate Schnetzler of Frith Anderson & Peake, P.C.

Time Management Hack

Many of us use our phones (those mini-computers) to scroll the internet.  As we do so, we are confronted with voluminous information.  Eye catching headlines and informative videos.  News, sports, entertainment, recipes, articles, blogs, etc.   However, we don’t have time to read or watch everything that piques are interest.  What to do?  Forget the old school method of emailing yourself the link to read later.  Why clog up an already overloaded email box? Instead save it for later in one easily accessible central location.   Two of the most popular apps are “Instapaper” and “Pocket”.   Download one of these apps on your phone or iPad then you can simply save the links to the app.  Thereafter, with one click of the app you can read anything you save, anytime, anywhere, and even when you are offline!

This St. Petersburg, Florida, native and VADA Past President loves travel, being a dad to his two daughters, and live music.  When he’s not in the office, you likely can find him on the links, the slopes, or in search of the perfect wave.  To learn more about this month’s VADA Spotlighted Member, click here.

Be sure to bookmark VADA Upcoming Events so you don't miss out.

August 25
Memory Skills for Lawyers

September 9
Retaining, Developing, and Safely Navigating Expert Witness Testimony

October 20-22
Annual Meeting
Marriott Va. Beach Oceanfront

We don’t want to lose you! If you are unsure of your membership status, please reach out to Executive Director Sherma Mather at or Membership Chair Sam Bernier at for more information.

Marina Batalias
Wilcox and Savage

Daniel Eggleston
Carter and Shands 

Eva Roftis
McCandlish and Holton

Vivek Subramanyam
Bancroft McGavin Horvath & Judkins

Claims and Defenses under the Virginia Telephone Privacy Protection Act
Matthew A. Roberson, Esq.

In Virginia, significant remedies are available for individuals who receive unwanted telephone solicitation calls. In 2001, the Virginia General Assembly promulgated the Virginia Telephone Privacy Protection Act (“VTPPA”), which sets forth a series of requirements both for telephone solicitors and the person or business entity for whose benefit the solicitation call was made. When these rules are violated, an individual receiving unwanted telephone solicitation may be entitled to receive monetary damages of up to $5,000.00 per call, as well as an award of attorneys’ fees. Depending upon the number of calls at issue, the VTPPA can expose defendants to substantial liability. At the same time, the law governing these cases is underdeveloped and evolving. Companies that engage in telemarketing in Virginia are well advised to apprise themselves of the law in this area.

The existence of the National Do Not Call Registry (“DNC”) is well known, and the VTPPA prohibits telephone solicitation calls to individuals on it. In addition, however, the VTPPA prohibits calls to any telephone number when “a person at such telephone number” has previously stated that he or she does not want to receive telephone solicitation calls “made by or on behalf of the person on whose behalf the telephone solicitation call is being made.” When a person makes such a request, the VTPPA prohibits solicitation calls to that number for 10 years.

In addition to proscribing calls to certain numbers, the VTPPA also requires that calls be made only during certain hours, and that the caller be properly identified. With respect to timing, all solicitation calls must be made between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. in the location where the call is received. Weekend calls are not prohibited.

Further, the caller must “promptly” identify himself by his first and last name, as well as the name of the person or company on whose behalf the call is made. Where a live person is not available to speak to the person who answers the call, within two seconds of the call being answered, the caller must play a prerecorded message identifying the name and the telephone number of the person or entity on whose behalf the call was made. The VTPPA requires the caller to provide a correct telephone number which the person receiving the call may dial in order to request that no further calls be made. Notably, it is prohibited for the caller to take any intentional action to conceal the caller’s correct name and telephone number.

Under the VTPPA, a plaintiff “shall” be entitled to certain damages for each occurrence of each of the above violations. For unintentional violations, the VTPPA provides that a plaintiff shall be entitled to an award of $500 for the first violation, $1,000 for the second violation, and $5,000 for each subsequent violation. Where the court finds that any violation was willful, the court has discretion to award up to $5,000 per violation. In addition, the court may award attorneys’ fees, whether a violation was unintentional or willful. Notably, the Act does not define a “willful” violation

The VTPPA became a more significant issue to companies utilizing telemarketing in 2019, when the Act was amended to prevent companies from evading liability by presenting evidence that they did not control the individual telemarketers. Individual telephone solicitors are generally not employees of, or otherwise directly controlled by, the companies on whose behalf they make solicitation calls. Solicitors may make calls for dozens of different companies, and there is typically little or no direct oversight by any particular company over the individual telephone solicitor. Significantly, however, the 2019 amendment to the VTPPA provides that if a violation occurs, the individual caller (termed, the “telephone solicitor”) and the company on whose behalf the call is made (termed, the “seller”) shall be held jointly and severally liable—meaning that a judgment is entered against both parties, and the plaintiff may recover the entire judgment from either party.

The VTPPA does offer an important affirmative defense to “sellers.” In many cases, there is no dispute that unwanted telephone solicitation occurred. Accordingly, establishing this affirmative defense might be the only viable strategy to defend the claim. Specifically, the VTPPA provides an affirmative defense if a seller can prove that it has “established and implemented, with due care, reasonable practices and procedures to effectively prevent telephone solicitation calls in violation of [the VTPPA], including using in accordance with applicable federal regulations a version of the National Do Not Call Registry obtained from the administrator of the registry no more than 31 days prior to the date any telephone solicitation call is made.”

The key issue in many VTPPA cases is whether the court is persuaded that a seller has established “reasonable practices and procedures” to prevent violations of the Act.

Recently, plaintiffs’ attorneys have argued that the 2019 amendment supersedes the affirmative defense, such that if the “telephone solicitor” is in violation of the VTPPA, the “seller” is jointly and severally liable, and the “seller” cannot avoid this liability by proving that it enacted “reasonable practices and procedures” to prevent violations of the VTPPA.

This firm has been successful in prevailing for the defendant/seller on these issues. However, cases under the Act are often complicated by the lack of Virginia law interpreting it. Although the VTPPA has been in effect for 20 years, there is not a single published Virginia state court decision addressing the statute. Beyond the text of the statute itself, the legal authority in these cases consists of federal court decisions from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that address the VTPPA and provide non-binding, persuasive authority to Virginia state courts. When facing a VTPPC claim, it is important for defense counsel to be familiar with these cases and the evidence needed to establish an affirmative defense, as well as any other challenges to Plaintiff’s claim that may be available. 

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    VADA’S Mission

    The mission of the Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys is to assist Virginia attorneys in the professional and ethical representation of their clients in civil litigation through education, communication and fellowship.

    Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys
    1915 Huguenot Road, Ste. 301
    Richmond, VA  23235
    804-649-1002 |

    Executive Director: Sherma Mather
    Director of Meetings: Amy Gilbody
    Journal of Civil Litigation Managing EditorMolly Terry

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