Speleothem Trafficking Spells Trouble In The Commonwealth of Virginia

Over the years, I have drafted numerous articles discussing issues related to mechanic’s liens, construction law, franchising, and other commercial business and litigation topics. Those articles, while informative from a legal perspective, suffer from a lack of usable and practical information for those without specialized training or legal knowledge. At the urging of some of my colleagues, I have decided to prepare a series of short articles containing practical and important information for those live in, or who may travel to, the Commonwealth of Virginia. This introductory article contains what might be the most important advice of the series, so long as you concern yourself with speleothems. If you do not know what a speleothem is, you are not alone. According to Wikipedia, a speleothem is essentially a cave formation, such as a stalagmite or stalactite. For more interesting reading on speleothems, I recommend Wikipedia, which I am now convinced knows everything about everything. In Virginia, speleothems are given special protections. It is unclear as to whether the Virginia legislature was concerned with a potential speleothem shortage, potential personal injury from a speleothem malfunction, or just the desire to see the word speleothum grace the pages of the Virginia Code, but in 1979 they enacted special prohibitions with respect to speleothums. According to Virginia Code 10.1-1007, which is still in effect to this date, it is unlawful for any person to sell or offer to sell a speleothem in Virginia. Apparently attempting to close a potential loophole in this important legislation, the statute also prohibits the exporting of speleothums for sale in other states. The penalty for unlawful speleothum peddling is imprisonment for up to 1 year in jail and/or a potential fine of up to $2,500. So, if you are visiting Virginia, or if you reside there, keep in mind that Virginia is for lovers, not for selling rocks. In my next article, I will address the Virginia law prohibiting the molestation of bird eggs without the proper permit. This article should not be missed.

Brian Loffredo is a principal in Offit Kurman’s Baltimore/Washington office. If you have any questions about the content of this article or other construction matters, please contact Mr. Loffredo at 301.575.0345 or