Post #335: Sunrise sues the Town of Vienna.

Posted on August 3, 2019

I now know that there is a lawsuit.  It’ll be a few days before I can learn the details.

In prior posts, I had mentioned an un-verified rumor that Sunrise is suing the Town of Vienna.  Emphasis on un-verified and on rumor.

This rumored lawsuit would be about the Town’s decision to turn down Sunrise’s MAC proposal for an assisted living facility at Maple and Center.  That decision was made by what I termed (Post #301) a seemingly “irrational and psychotic Town government“.  E.g., at one point, they encouraged Sunrise to change the building, then at another point, they used those changes, in part, to justify the denial.  As noted in Post #321, a lawsuit certainly seemed like a logical outcome.

And after hearing rumors for weeks now, a colleague has obtained the information required to request a copy of the lawsuit from the Fairfax County Circuit Court.  How she did that, I do not know.  But I will summarize key details when that arrives, via US Mail, presumably some time next week.

Extras for experts:  A summary of the courts.

Because it has been such a long haul to get to this point, and because I found it to be thoroughly confusing, I will briefly summarize the courts here in Fairfax County, and how to obtain information from them.

First, although we may think of the courts located here as Fairfax County courts, they are not.  They are Commonwealth of Virginia courts.  A summary of the Commonwealth of Virginia court system can be found at this URL.

The Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court should be self-explanatory, and is not relevant here.

The General District Court tries smaller matters, including traffic violations and civil cases involving less than $25,000.  It also deals with evictions, and some criminal misdemeanors.  It does not try felonies (assuming I am using that word correctly).

The Circuit Court tries everything else — criminal matters, civil suits involving a lot of money, felony criminal cases, and so on.  Probably, given what is at stake, the Sunrise suit should appear in this court.

You can see Fairfax County’s introduction to all three courts on this page on the Fairfax County website.

But wait, there’s more.   If a matter involves only town or city statute in Vienna, Herndon, or Fairfax City, it is tried in a local court.  So, we have a Town of Vienna court, held in Town Hall.  It’s staffed by Fairfax County, the paperwork runs through Fairfax County, and so on.  But it is physically held here in the Town of Vienna.  It only deals with minor matters such as traffic tickets and the like.  I’ve lived here nearly 30 years and I never knew that.

What information is available on-line.

A nice summary of how to obtain information on Fairfax County court cases can be found at this website.

Anything that is happening or has happened (within maybe the last decade or so) in Fairfax County General District Court is available on-line.  The Commonwealth of Virginia’s system for searching such records can be found on this page.  Note that, formally, the Independent Cities of Virginia have their own courts, so searches for items in Falls Church or Fairfax City are separate from those in Fairfax County.  Search for a case, then click on that case for a brief summary of details.

But the Fairfax County Circuit Court is NOT part of that reporting system.  I believe it is one of just two Virginia courts for which case summaries cannot be accessed on-line.  As far as I can tell, the only on-line information available to the public is the docket, i.e., the list of cases that will be tried on any given day.  The only way to know if (e.g.) a lawsuit has been filed is to call them up and ask for a copy, assuming you know enough to be able to find the lawsuit.  And the only way to know the details is to pay them $0.50/page to have them copy the lawsuit paperwork and mail it to you.

And so, that’s where this now stands, awaiting delivery via the US Mail.