Welcome to the National Center for Victims of Crime

We are the nation's leading resource and advocacy organization for crime victims and those who serve them. Please join us as we forge a national commitment to help victims of crime rebuild their lives.

Return to the Case Law Sample List


Webb v. Rivers
507 S.E.2d 360, Va., VA, 11/06/1998
Category Victim v. Perpetrator 
Topic Theory of Liability, Assault and Battery 
Filename Alcohol Related 
Crime DUI 
Location Street 
Prevailing Party Plaintiff 
Other Parties
HoldingStatement of Facts: On May 3, 1995, Sidney M.. Webb ("Webb") and his wife, Jacqueline, were hit by a car driven by Jason A. Rivers ("Rivers"). Rivers, who was "entirely intoxicated" at the time of the crash, had run a red light and was driving 65 m.p.h. above the speed limit. Webb filed an action for civil damages against Rivers, and the jury awarded Webb $350 in compensatory damages. However, the trial court sustained Rivers' motion striking Webb's claim for punitive damages. Webb appealed. Holding: The Supreme Court of Virginia affirmed the plaintiff's compensatory damage award, reversed the order dismissing Webb's common law claim for punitive damages, and remanded. Although Webb failed to make a statutory claim for punitive damages, a common law remedy is possible if Rivers' acts of recklessness or negligence showed a conscious disregard for the rights of others. Rivers was driving 90 m.p.h. in a 25 m.p.h. zone, ran a red light, had a blood alcohol level of .21%, and was so drunk that he did not know where he was. Therefore, the trial court abused its discretion when it dismissed Webb's punitive damage claim. 

Damage Award $350 compensatory; punitive to be determined 
Victim's Counsel     
Plaintiff's Counsel Gary R. Hershner, Richmond 
Plaintiff's Expert      
Defense Counsel William Tyler Shands, Richmond 
Defense Expert

The National Center for Victims of Crime, All right reserved