"Ball Gets Rolling on New Midlothian Athletic Facility"
Beth Williams, during her lifetime, was a community-minded individual who devoted her life to raising breast cancer awareness. When she began losing her own battle with the disease, her dying wish was that in lieu of flowers at her funeral, donations be solicited to rebuild the local football field to benefit the community's children. Her family was so moved by her request that it used the donated money to begin The Beth Williams Field of Dreams Foundation. We are pleased to announce our latest news from the foundation:
"Ball Gets Rolling on New Midlothian Athletic Facility"
Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Presents Resolution of Commendation to Peter Burnett
On June 2, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors awarded Peter Burnett a Resolution of Commendation for his leadership and service on the Courthouse Grounds and Facilities Task Force. Peter was instrumental in the development of a Master Landscape plan for the grounds as well as policies that will protect the grounds from the haphazard placement of monuments and vegetation, preserve the archaeological integrity of the site, and promote fair and orderly use of the grounds by the public.
In addition, the Task force started the process of developing a forward looking consolidated maintenance program that will anticipate preservation and maintenance needs and secure funding for them in a timely fashion.
Loudoun County developed the Courthouse Grounds and Facility Task Force to provide a long-term and unified vision for the court complex grounds; to address ideas regarding ways to make the facility and grounds unique to Loudoun County and to suggest a process for ongoing decision making as new suggestions are brought forward by the community.
Downtown Improvement Association Elects Peter Burnett as Co-Chair
At its first official board meeting on October 4, the newly formed Downtown Improvement Association elected its first board. The board of directors reflects a mix of property owners, business owners, merchants and stakeholders in downtown Leesburg.
The board of directors include:
Peter Burnett, co-chair, Burnett & Williams
Michael O’Connor, co-chair, O’Connor & Fierce Associates
Bradley Gable, Southern Trust Mortgage
Dianne Capilongo, Cardinal Bank
Don Culkin, Burnett & Williams
Stilson Greene, Stilson Greene Graphic Design
Scott Gustavson, Fianna Investments
Dieter Meyer, W.A. Brown & Associates
Ron Rust, Thomas Birkby House
Ken Werner, Town of Leesburg’s Economic Development Commission
Carrie Whitmer, Lightfoot Restaurant
Barbara Williams, Barbara S. Williams PC
Formed in March 2007, the Downtown Improvement Association (DIA) consists of business and property owners, residents, partner organizations and other stakeholders interested in improving the economic and cultural vitality of downtown Leesburg.
Burnett & Williams Sponsors 2008 Beth Williams Field of Dreams Foundation Golf Tournament
On May 12, Burnett & Williams was a major corporate sponsor for the 2008 Beth Williams Field of Dreams Foundation Golf Tournament at Provident Golf Course in Midlothian, Va. Burnett & Williams sponsored two foursomes in addition to helping organize and staff the tournament. Firm players on the first foursome were Peter Burnett, Jim Williams and Don Culkin, and the second foursome included Michele Bennett, Helen Dybulak and Chris Walters.
The tournament raised $11,000 to be dedicated to the building and refurbishing of youth athletic venues such as football and baseball complexes.
Jim Williams, partner at Burnett & Williams, is the CEO of the Beth Williams Field of Dreams Foundation (www.bethwilliamsfoundation.com). Anchorwoman Paula Zahn, who met Beth Williams during her cancer battle, is the honorary chair. Jim's wife, Beth, was an active volunteer and promoter of youth sports before her death from breast cancer in the fall of 2006. She was the inspiration for Jim creating the nonprofit whose mission is to build football and baseball fields for children in areas where local resources are unavailable.
Burnett & Williams hostS Lawyers for Literacy Fundraiser
On June 8, 2007, Burnett & Williams teamed up with Loudoun Literacy Council to kickoff the “Lawyers for Literacy” fundraising campaign. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright attended the event, held at Burnett & Williams’ Leesburg office, as keynote speaker and longtime advocate of literacy. An author herself, Ms. Albright spoke about the importance of literacy programs in expanding opportunities for people in this country.
The event was attended by many local lawyers, town officials, and citizens of the community. All proceeds from the event benefited the Loudoun Literacy Council, a local nonprofit group dedicated to helping adults and children from disadvantaged families learn to read, speak, write, and understand English. Peter C. Burnett of Burnett & Williams was the lead donor for the Lawyers for Literacy campaign and encouraged other local lawyers to also support this important cause and give back to their communities.
Peter C. Burnett Elected to the Virginia STate Bar Council
The Virginia State Bar recently announced the nomination and election of Peter C. Burnett to the Virginia State Bar Council for the 20th Judicial Circuit for a three year term.
The Virginia State Bar is an administrative agency of the supreme court of Virginia and is governed by the Council and Executive Committee. The mission of the Virginia State Bar is to regulate the legal profession of Virginia and to improve legal services and the legal system in the Commonwealth
New Office Opening
In March of 2007, Burnett & Williams opened a new office in Midlothian, Virginia. C. James Williams of Burnett & Williams heads up the new office. Partner, Jim Williams and his five children have lived in Chesterfield County for many years. Jim has been an active participant in the Midlothian PTA and a leader of the Evergreen Athletic Association.
In recent months, Jim has been particularly focused on the Beth Williams Memorial Field of Dreams becoming a reality for the athletic endeavors of Midlothian school children. Jim's wife, Beth was an active volunteer and promter of youth sports before her death from breast cancer in the fall of 2006.
Peter C. Burnett named "2007 Washington Dc Super lawyer"
For the second straight year, Peter C. Burnett of Burnett & Williams was selected as a Super Lawyer. This time, Peter was recognized in the Washington D.C. area. Super Lawyers is an annual award given to attorneys who demonstrate excellence in the legal profession and are respected by their peers.
PETER C. BURNETT NAMED "2006 vIRGINIA SUPER LAWYER"
Peter C. Burnett of Burnett & Williams was awarded the distinction of being named a 2006 Virginia Super Lawyer by the legal community and a state-wide blue ribbon panel. This distinction recognizes Peter's legal excellence and achievement as well as his dedication to the community.
Super Lawyers is an annual award for outstanding attorneys who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The award is the result of a multi-step selection process involving statewide surveys from the legal community and a blue ribbon panel that researches attorney credentials to select only the most distinguished attorneys in Virginia.
Walk to Cure Diabetes
June 4, 2006 Lansdowne, Virginia
On June 4, Burnett and Williams participated in the annual Walk to Cure Diabetes, sponsored by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Our team raised money for juvenile diabetes research and also got some good exercise walking 5K around Lansdowne. For more information about JDRF visit their website.
‘Hypersensitivity’ does not limit emotional
damages, court holds
By Alan Cooper , from the Virginia Lawyers Weekly journal
The Supreme Court of Virginia has decided
to stay away from the distinction between physical and
emotional injuries that it announced in "Kondaurov v. Kerdasha" in
The court took the extremely unusual step of vacating
that opinion after Eve Kerdasha’s attorneys contended
in a petition for rehearing that her emotional hypersensitivity
was not an issue until Senior Justice Charles S. Russell
raised it in his opinion for the court.
The court granted
the petition, and on April 21 Russell again sent the case
back to Arlington County Circuit Court for a new trial
But the new opinion contains little of the language
that plaintiffs’ attorneys found so distressing in
the first one.
In a discussion in the November opinion that
found a plaintiff’s
instruction to be improper, Russell analogized Kerdasha’s
circumstances to cases in which a plaintiff suffers physical
injury as the result of emotional distress.
Because of “the fear of fraudulent and exaggerated
claims easily asserted and difficult to refute,” Russell
said, Virginia and other states have allowed recovery only
when a defendant was aware of a plaintiff’s unusual
sensitivity and acted outrageously as a result of that
An instruction the trial judge gave over the
objection of the defendant “permitted the jury to award damages
for emotional distress far beyond that which a normal person
would have sustained,” Russell wrote. “Such
an instruction, given without limitation in a case of this
kind, permits a plaintiff to recover damages limited only
by his ability to articulate his anguish. Such a claim
is impossible for the defendant to refute.”
Russell said the jury should have been instructed that “the
defendant is only responsible for such emotional distress
as could reasonably be expected by a person of normal sensitivity
and normal reactions under the circumstances of the case.”
Kerdasha’s attorneys—Peter C. Burnett, Jeffrey
Rosenfeld and Karen M. Kennedy of Northern Virginia—responded
that the distinction between physical injury and emotional
injury directly related to physical harm was new territory
for the court.
The decision went far beyond the general
rule that defendants take a plaintiffs as they find them,
the attorneys contended in their petition for rehearing. “In finding that
she must prove the damages that would have been suffered
by a person of ‘normal sensitivity,’ the court
established a potentially impossible burden of proof, one
that is certain to increase the cost and complexity of
litigation in Virginia.
“The policy considerations that created the need
to limit liability in cases of emotional distress without
impact are not present in this case,” they concluded.
the April 21 opinion, VLW 006-6-033, Russell still found
that the instruction—which told the jury that
the defendant was liable for all the injurious consequences
of his act even if those consequences were unexpected—was
duplicative of other instructions and placed no limit what
the jury might consider injurious.
However, instead of analogizing
harm to non-impact emotional injuries, Russell included
a long list of types of emotional distress related to her
physical injury for which the jury could award damages.
damages did not include the emotional trauma she suffered
because of concern about injuries to her dog, Sushi, which
was in Kerdasha’s Jeep and also injured
when it was rear-ended by a large tour bus in November
1998, Russell said.
The Jeep fell onto its side and skidded
into the path of an ambulance. The ambulance struck the
Jeep and knocked it onto its roof, leaving Kerdasha suspended
upside down from her seat belt.
Remarkably, Kerdasha suffered
no injuries more serious than bruises and a stiff and sore
However, the emotional trauma of the wreck made her
preexisting multiple sclerosis worse. Moreover, she had
a strong emotional attachment to Sushi, and the dog was
thrown out of the car and not found for some time. The
dog’s tail had
to be partially amputated as the result of an injury it
suffered in the wreck.
After the accident, Sushi would cower
under a bed or in a closet when it heard a siren, and Kerdasha
would go under the bed or into the closet to comfort her.
psychiatrist testified that Kerdasha was “devastated
by what happened emotionally and by what happened to her
dog.” The incident created an “almost catastrophic
downhill ride for her” and left her with “feelings
of fear, feelings of terror, cinematic tension, tremor,
motor tics,” the psychiatrist testified.
A jury awarded Kerdasha $300,000.
Because pets are considered personal property under state
law, damages related to injuries to them are “confined
to the diminution in their value” caused by an accident, “plus
reasonable and necessary expenses incurred,” Russell
(Source: Virginia Lawyers Weekly, 04/21/06)
"duty of good faith" presentation
Jim Williams gave a presentation
on "duty of good faith" at the April 21, 2006
CLE Seminar on Handling Insurance Law Matters in Virginia.
In conjunction with his role as a faculty member at this
seminar, Jim was also one of the authors featured in "Insurance
Law in Virginia," a popular Virginia Lawyers Practice
Handbook. Jim has used his expertise in insurance matters
to teach other attorneys and navigate complicated insurance
law relating to personal injury cases.
Recent changes at Burnett & Williams
We are excited
and pleased to announce the addition of a new personal
injury litigator, C. James Williams, III. Jim is a highly
regarded attorney who fits perfectly with our vision for
the future of the firm. He is a summa cum laude graduate
of George Mason University School of Law and a former clerk
to United States District Court Judge Glen M. Williams.
He practiced at Gentry, Locke, Rakes, and Moore in Roanoke
and at Morris & Morris in Richmond before becoming
litigation counsel for Progressive Insurance Company. In
1999, Jim left defense and coverage work and began representing
injured plaintiffs. A veteran litigator, he has tried more
than one hundred personal injury jury trials and was appellate
counsel in Virginia’s leading scientific evidence
case, Titsworth v. Robinson. He is a regular contributor
of law journal articles on personal injury law and litigation
issues. Jim’s wealth of experience in insurance coverage
matters provides added expertise in an insurance environment
that becomes more complex each year. We are thrilled that
he has joined the firm as an attorney and principal, and
we look forward to the opportunity to introduce him to
Another important change is that Don Culkin has joined
the Burnett & Williams Board of Directors as a principal
of the firm. Don Culkin joined us in 1996 and his outstanding
analytical skills, along with his prior experience as a
licensed professional engineer, have been invaluable to
the firm. He has participated in numerous cases before
the Virginia Supreme Court and has been critical to our
recent successes in several substantial medical malpractice
and wrongful death cases.
Burnett & Williams is more than the sum of its parts.
The Burnett & Williams name holds with it our shared
values, ideals, and way of practicing law. More changes
will surely come, but our mission will always be to serve
the legitimate needs of our injured clients with distinction
to our Community
One of our firm’s core values is social responsibility. The
growth and success of our firm is meaningless
if we do not use what we have learned to help
our community. Starting in Spring 2006, we
will be launching a campaign in association
with TeachSafe, a non-profit organization,
to share our collective knowledge with others
in order to prevent injury and encourage safety.
As a personal injury firm, we deal with injured
people every day and know a lot about the hardships
they face. While not all accidents are
preventable, we feel an obligation to do what
we can to help people avoid injury in their
lives. In addition to our safety campaign,
the attorneys and staff in our firm give their
time and resources to better the community.
Here are some highlights:
- Burnett & Williams received a Certificate of Appreciation from Loudoun Cares for volunteer services above and beyond to Loudoun Cares and its partners in February 2006.
- Don Culkin received
the Harry L. Carrico Pro Bono Award from
the Legal Services of Northern Virginia
in June 2004. This award recognized Don’s
involvement on the Pro Bono Committee at
LSNV and his dedication to helping those
less fortunate obtain meaningful access
June 2005, the staff of Burnett & Williams
participated in the Juvenile Diabetes Research
Foundation Walk and raised a substantial
amount of money for this worthy cause.
- Our entire
firm received the award for “2005
Outstanding Corporate Volunteer Team” by
the Loudoun Volunteer Services for our
track record of volunteer work to better
- In 2004, Peter
Burnett was awarded the George C. Marshall
Corporate Citizen Award by the Town of
Leesburg for his contributions to the
town and his efforts to help
business prosper in Leesburg.