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Posted March 11, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Jury will hear fired official's civil case

FRONT ROYAL -- A Shenandoah County Circuit Court jury will hear a former Shenandoah Valley Travel Association official's wrongful termination suit later this month.

Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp on Monday denied a motion for summary judgment in the case of L. Meriwether German, who was fired in August 2006, shortly after sending out a series of e-mails that were critical of the temporary relocation of the Interstate 81 Welcome Center at Clear Brook to downtown Winchester.

German is suing Virginia Tourism Corp. President Alisa Bailey, Luray Caverns marketing director John Shaffer and SVTA President Steve Fox for conspiring to have him terminated. Bailey used her influence over Shaffer to pressure him to get Fox, Shaffer's subordinate at Luray Caverns, to fire German, according to the claim.

In asking the court to decide the case on its own merits, attorney Robert Dybing, of Richmond, who represents Bailey, argued that there are no facts in the case connecting his client to any conspiracy to fire German. Thomas G. Bell, of Staunton, who is representing Shaffer and Fox, made a similar claim.

German's attorney, W. Reilly Marchant, of Richmond, acknowledged that much of the defense's case is circumstantial, but said the facts, when taken together, paint a reasonable picture of a conspiracy that jurors should be allowed to deliberate.

While Hupp said there are portions of German's argument he finds "threadbare," motions for summary judgment should be granted sparingly.

"We should not be taking issues of fact and looking at them separately," he said. "We should be looking at them in the flow of events."

The three-day trial is set to begin March 30.

-- Daily Staff Report

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