A lawsuit surrounding the State Fair of Virginia’s sale three years ago appears to be moving forward.
In a hearing last week, a Richmond circuit court judge overruled the objections of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation – the fair’s current owner – and downtown law firm Williams Mullen to a lawsuit filed last November. The suit, filed by New Kent County-based Mini-USA Inc., claims the company was wrongfully thwarted in its attempt to buy the fair in 2012.
Mini-USA claims that the Virginia Farm Bureau conspired with Williams Mullen, which represented Mini-USA in its attempt to buy the fair, in order to grab control of the fair for itself. In its complaint, Mini-USA says the Farm Bureau was also a major client of Williams Mullen.
Both defendants have maintained there was no such conspiracy, arguing that Williams Mullen was acting as an agent on behalf of the Farm Bureau and that a conspiracy requires two parties working in collaboration.
In addition to the conspiracy claim, Mini-USA’s suit alleges violations of state trade secret laws and legal malpractice, among other counts.
In responses filed in December, the defendants argued the case was without merit on numerous fronts and should be dismissed. But in his ruling last week, Judge Theodore Markow disagreed, overruling both defendants’ objections to multiple counts and to Mini-USA’s claims for punitive damages and attorney’s fees.
Markow also denied the Farm Bureau’s request for a hearing specific to a document in the case. His ruling said the defendants’ objections are noted.
The case is now scheduled for a jury trial beginning Jan. 11, 2016.
The Farm Bureau is represented by Christian & Barton attorneys Henry Willett III and Harrison Gates, while Williams Mullen is represented by one of its own attorneys, Bill Bayliss. Calls made to each attorney Tuesday afternoon were not immediately returned.
Mini-USA is represented by attorneys Harris Butler, Rebecca Royals and Zev Antell of Richmond law firm Butler Royals. Butler said in an email they would not comment on the ruling.