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Judge dismisses suit against lawyer in divorce case

By Joe Beck

A Winchester judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a local attorney against his former wife's divorce attorney.

Judge Joanne F. Alper ruled Feb. 27 that Phillip S. Griffin had failed to state a claim that supported his suit against William E. Shmidheiser III of Harrisonburg.

In an interview Monday, Shmidheiser said he believed the suit was motivated by hard feelings stemming from the divorce case.

"I think I said at the time I trusted in the system to dispose of the lawsuit, that it was a crazy lawsuit," Shmidheiser said. "I trusted in the system, and the system repaid that trust."

Griffin's lawsuit accused Shmidheiser of committing perjury, fraud and misrepresentation. Other accusations included defamation and violations of the Fair Debt Collection and Fair Credit Reporting acts.

The suit sought $2 million from Shmidheiser and his law firm.

Shmidheiser said the divorce case, which was still pending at the time the suit was filed, has been settled. Shmidheiser began representing Griffin's former wife, Kathryn Obenshain Griffin, in Winchester Circuit Court in 2006. A judge sealed the divorce records at Shmidheiser's request in 2007.

Shmidheiser sounded confident that the case is over, although Griffin has 30 days to file an appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court.

"It was just annoying to me because it got so much widespread publicity," Shmidheiser said of the lawsuit. "I'm happy to have it over."

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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