Short tort: One less lawsuit in Greene
Attorney George Dygert has dropped his $750,000 libel suit against Dogwood Valley resident Grant Colby– for now.
Dygert non-suited his claim that a letter by Colby caused him "mortification," "humiliation," and "vilification."
Why drop it? For "personal reasons," Dygert answers. "I have six months to re-file if I choose, and I may."
Colby's letter to the editor of the Greene County Record last year followed a Virginia Supreme Court ruling against the Dogwood Valley Citizens Association, represented by Dygert. The court said the property owners association could not make special assessments, and it reversed the sale of lots on which owner William Winkelman owed $35.
Colby's letter "accused my firm in effect of taking money that belonged to him and lying to others," says Dygert. "That was not true, and Mr. Colby knew it was not true. That had been explained in letters to him."
The action was the latest legal skirmish in the ongoing litigation between the board members of the Dogwood Valley Citizens Association and residents of Dogwood Valley ["Slap happy: Lawsuits bloom in Dogwood Valley," October 27 Hook.]
Some residents have accused the Association of filing "nuisance" lawsuits that often end up being non-suited (withdrawn) before they go to trial.
"In view of past events, it was no surprise," says Colby of the non-suit. The case was set for a February 28 jury trial, and he estimates he spent $1,000 getting ready for trial. "Even if you think it's going to be non-suited, you have to prepare for a jury trial," Colby says.
"I suppose you can say it was a matter of small moment, and it didn't affect me that much over time," says Dygert of Colby's letter. But, he adds, "It was defamatory, and I don't consider that to be a 'nuisance'."
Even with the non-suit, Colby and Dygert have another court date in their future. Colby is one of three Dogwood Valley residents suing the Dogwood Valley Citizens Association for continuing to make special assessments and placing liens on properties after the Virginia Supreme Court ruling. A hearing is scheduled for January 24.
Grant Colby has a reprieve from a $750,000 libel suit that was non-suited November 14. But there are plenty more suits in Dogwood Valley's future.
PHOTO BY JAKE MALONEY