Sharon D. Love's suit, filed in Charlottesville Circuit Court, charges that Huguely acted negligently and with "utter disregard" for the safety of Love, who was found dead in her off-campus apartment by a roommate shortly before she and Huguely were scheduled to graduate.
Huguely, 24, was convicted in February of second-degree murder and grand larceny in Love's death. In a videotaped interrogation by police that was played during the trial, Huguely said he and Love, a Cockeysville native, had gotten into an argument that turned violent and that he left her in her bed bleeding from her nose.
Huguely "engaged in a physical altercation with Love … ultimately resulting in injuries to Love and her death," the lawsuit charges.
Sharon Love said her lawyer advised her not to comment on the suit. Huguely's lawyers in his criminal case did not return calls for comment.
In her suit, Sharon Love said her daughter should have lived another 58.9 years, according to actuarial tables. She is seeking $29,450,000 in compensatory damages, which works out to $500,000 for each lost year, and $1 million in punitive damages.
J. Lloyd Snook III, a Charlottesville attorney who followed Huguely's trial, said families often file a civil suit both for monetary and emotional reasons. Sometimes, Snook said, it is a way of compelling someone like Huguely, who did not testify at the criminal trial, to speak under oath either in a deposition or in a civil trial.
"The motivation is sometimes, 'All I really want is to cross-examine this no-good so-and-so and hear him say what happened,'" Snook said. "There's a huge emotional component in a case like this. They've gotten what pound of flesh the criminal system can impose. … Maybe the money is the stand-in for something else — maybe it's the only way to get this guy on the witness stand."
The suit seeks a jury trial on the multiple counts, which outline alternative scenarios in which Huguely acted either negligently, indifferently or willfully in causing Yeardley Love's death. But Snook said he anticipated that the case would largely be fought by lawyers outside a courtroom.
"The challenge would be to pick a jury," he said, pointing the amount of time it took to select a panel for the criminal case. "I'd be surprised if it went to trial."
The murder drew both headlines and soul-searching, raising issues of dating violence and college drinking. Love and Huguely, who is from Chevy Chase, had a tumultuous on-again, off-again relationship. He was depicted during the trial as out of control, having had as many as 20 drinks on the day that ended in Love's death.
The jury that convicted Huguely recommended he serve 26 years in prison. The trial judge, Edward Hogshire, set final sentencing for Aug. 30.