Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian, P.C. (VF&N) welcomes Robert Zelnick, Esq. to the firm’s civil litigation practice group. Mr. Zelnick is a highly respected litigator with over 43 years of experience in Northern Virginia.
Robert (Zel) joins VF&N as Of Counsel departing his private practice, Zelnick & Associates, P.C. located in Lakeridge, VA. He was the recipient of the Arthur W. Sinclair Professionalism award in 2017, is a former president of the Prince William County Bar Association and serves as a Commissioner in Chancery for the Prince William County Circuit Court.
Known for his integrity, quality of work, and community leadership, attorney Robert Zelnick is a notable addition to the Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian, P.C. team.
About Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian, P.C.
Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian, P.C. is a law firm located in Manassas, VA. Established in 1986, we have served clients for over 30 years in business law, commercial real estate, litigation, lending, IP, employment law, land use and zoning, and municipal law.
To learn more about Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian, P.C., visit our about us page.
On Sept. 10th, 2018, Prince William County Circuit Court Judge Carroll Weimer, Jr. ruled in favor of a group of homeowners, voiding the grant of a Special Use Permit (SUP) for a cell phone tower.
Under the legal representation of Brett A. Callahan of Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian P.C. litigation team, the homeowners claimed that they were not properly notified of the Planning Commission hearing or the Board of Supervisors (BOS) public hearing on the SUP for a cell phone tower to be placed near their homes.
Meaning of the word “Current”
The homeowners bought into a new subdivision March through late May 2016, yet the SUP applicant and County used a February 3, 2016 Adjacent Property Owners (APO) list to send notices. This list was based on an earlier list generated by the County from the tax records. The applicant maintained that they had relied on the list provided by the County and the County’s policy was that an APO list up to six months old is “current.” The County likewise argued that it is their prerogative to apply an administrative interpretation that an APO list based on tax records up to six months old is “current” under the notice statute to avoid excessive burden on the County.
The judge determined:
A policy permitting APO lists based on six-month-old tax records is not in compliance with the law either under the plain meaning of the word “current” in the statute or legislative intent standard of statutory interpretation, especially in light of how quickly County tax assessment records are updated and the free and easy access to tax assessment records through the County’s website.
The SUP is void ab initio for lack of notice.
* NO GUARANTEE OF RESULTS: Our prior results, including successful judgments and settlements, do not guarantee a similar outcome. Each case we handle is different and therefore we cannot guarantee any specific result in your case
The conversion of the 18th century historic estate, Effingham Manor, into a winery caused a stir among residential neighbors who claimed that the winery breached the community’s 2004 development covenants and filed suit. The opposition came as a surprise to the winery owner, Chris Pearmund, thinking the winery would be an ideal fit for the bucolic community. He came to Manassas trial attorney Randolph D. Frostick (Randy) of Vanderpool, Frostick, & Nishanian, P.C. for legal representation in the case. On May 26, 2017, Prince William County Circuit Court Judge Steven Smith ruled in favor of our client, allowing Effingham Manor Winery to open for business in Fall 2017.
“Not only did Randy have compelling evidence in this case, but he also argued his point with finesse and detail in line with the law, which is what VF&N’s attorneys are known for. We are proud of his hard work, skill, and dedication to his client, and are thrilled by the outcome” says VF&N managing partner Michael Vanderpool.
A main point of contention in the case was a 2005 amendment to the development’s covenants that removed the manor house from the residential restrictions. This amendment was upheld in court despite arguments that it was invalid because it was not filed with a certification required by the Virginia Property Owners Association Act. Circuit Judge Steven Smith ruled that the legislation’s use of “may” over “shall” in regard to the amendment allowed an alternative method if authorized by a declaration.
Three key pieces of evidence bolstered the decision:
Zinone v. Lee’s Crossing Homeowners Ass’n held amendments following the terms of the declaration valid without regard for statutory procedure.
The General Assembly amended the POAA legislation this year to exempt declarations from the POAA’s procedural requirements for amendments, effective July 1, 2017.
The developer, Frank Smerbeck, testified that he had intended to keep the manor lot free of residential restrictions due to its historic value and commercial potential.
Homeowners also tried to block the winery’s road access, claiming that the increased traffic would overburden the easement. However, the judge backed the winery’s existing agreement to pay half of the road maintenance costs for the subdivision.
This case, along with the new legislative amendment, assures property owners’ associations and their lawyers that their declarative amendments are legally sound.
Randy Frostick has been providing civil trial and alternative dispute resolution solutions to clients throughout Virginia since 1983 in both state and federal courts and various arbitration and mediation panels. He represents a diverse range of clients, including businesses, municipalities, and individuals, in a wide range of cases. For over thirty years, Randy has provided his clients legal guidance to both avoid and resolve civil disputes without litigation, and when necessary, zealously advocated for their legal rights in court or arbitration. Learn more about Randy here.
As our society becomes increasingly litigious, individuals and entities are seeking to avoid the costly, public, and time intensive process of a law suit. As a result, interest in mediation and arbitration has also increased. So what is the difference between the two? This post will give an overview of the similarities and differences between mediation and arbitration.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Mediation and arbitration both utilize a neutral third party to resolve a dispute either without litigation or in conjunction with it. Both may or may not be binding, however typically mediation is non-binding, while arbitration is binding. There are several types of mediation and arbitration, but this post will focus on the basics:
In mediation, a single neutral mediator is chosen to facilitate discussion between the parties, so they can reach an agreement on how to resolve the dispute. The mediator does not pass judgement or make decisions, though they may suggest creative solutions. While mediators in this area are often former judges, they generally do not give legal advice or opinions regarding either party’s position or the resolution.
Mediation is a way for disputing parties to openly and confidentially work through their problems and reach a mutually agreeable solution. It is typically used when those involved have a continuing relationship, are willing to negotiate, and don’t want to forfeit their decision making power to a third party. This is why businesses often consider mediation to resolve issues. They may choose to draft and sign a binding agreement following the mediation, but if an agreement is not reached, litigation remains an option.
Arbitration is more like a simplified litigation. Each side presents their case- including evidence, arguments, and witnesses – to a panel of arbitrators, though a single arbitrator may be used. Usually, one arbitrator is selected by each party, and a third is selected by the two chosen arbitrators. The panel then decides the case and the appropriate award. If the parties have agreed to a binding arbitration, the award is enforceable in court and has limited appeal options.
Arbitration can be faster and cheaper than a court proceeding, and the dispute stays out of the public eye, which is why many companies put arbitration agreement provisions in their contracts. However, arbitration requires both parties to forfeit control of the outcome of the dispute.
MANASSAS —For most business owners, litigation is a very real threat which can be time consuming, stressful and expensive. It was Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian’s pleasure to have Prince William Civil Litigation attorney Randy Frostick hold a presentation on doing business in a litigious world with an emphasis on how to avoid litigation.
The seminar was hosted at Ceterfuse in Manassas, Virginia and was attended by local business owners who were eager to gain some tools and knowledge for handling litigation. Randy discussed what businesses should do after being served with a lawsuit, and detailed the importance of consulting an attorney immediately, as well as avoiding reliance on internet sources for their legal advise. He also discussed topics such as:
The importance of appropriate liability insurance
Ways to determine whether a settlement offer is too good to be true
The dangers of settling for a “good deal”
Protecting intellectual property as well as data on company technology
Reading through contracts carefully before signing
An an experienced trial attorney, Randy has extensive experience with civil litigation in Manassas, Prince William, and Northern Virginia and encourages business owners to have a plan of action for the possibility of a lawsuit.