The family of Yeardley Love dropped a civil suit on Monday against George Huguely V, Love’s ex-boyfriend who was found guilty of second-degree murder in her 2010 death.
Huguely’s criminal trial concluded in 2012, but the family has been seeking a $29.45 million wrongful death suit; the case had been set for a three-week jury trial in July. Judge Richard Moore’s ruling in Charlottesville Circuit Court terminates the suit without prejudice, while leaves open the possibility that the family can refile.
Under Virginia law, a plaintiff is allowed one nonsuit without explanation.
The Charlottesville ruling comes after a decision in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Maryland, which upheld a federal judge’s 2017 decision that Chartis Property Casualty Co., a holding company of AIG, does not have to pay a $6 million insurance policy to Huguely. The insurance ruling decreased possible damages available to Sharon Love, Yeardley's mother.
Moore said the possibility of a nonsuit had been present in this case ever since he arrived on the bench three and a half years earlier. Normally, he said, he simply signs the first nonsuit motion in a case, but given the unique nature of the Huguely case, he called a hearing.
Matthew Green, an attorney representing Huguely, asked the judge to delay a ruling on the motion until Green had had more time to review the Maryland decision and prepare for the upcoming trial. He said Huguely had admitted legal responsibility and agreed that Sharon Love was entitled to compensation.
Jeffrey Stedman, an attorney for the Love family, said a wait would violate Virginia law, and Moore agreed.
“I’d have to come up with a pretty good reason to delay it further,” Moore said. “Mr. Green, I have to say this: I know this is frustrating, and if I were in your shoes, I’d be jumping up and down.”
Scott Goodman, a Charlottesville attorney and legal analyst, said the move likely indicated that Love’s attorneys didn’t think they could win the upcoming trial.
“It sounds like they think their case is falling apart,” Goodman said. “They just don’t want to lose right now. This gives them the opportunity to lick their wounds, regroup and consider other options.”
After the hearing, Green said he was surprised by the motion.
“It’s extremely unusual for a civil case to stretch eight years after an event and six years after the case is filed,” Green said. “We always knew it was a possibility, but by this point we expected the trial to happen.
Sharon Love will have six months to refile the suit. After the hearing, Stedman said a new case was “possible.”