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No abuse of process in divorce case

Where the counter-plaintiff alleges that the counter-defendant has engaged in abuse of process by causing him “to expend greater than necessary funds on legal fees,” the counterclaim is dismissed. Counter-plaintiff’s general allegations have not stated a claim.

No Claim

“Counter-Plaintiffs Counterclaim simply lists a factual recitation of the nature of filings in his divorce action. Counter-Plaintiff alludes to Counter-Defendant’s improper motivations in filing her pleading, however, he fails to state how a specific process was not proper in the regular prosecution of the proceedings and fails to assert any specific factual assertions beyond the filings themselves.

“Additionally, Counter-Plaintiff suggests that Counter-Defendant and Ms. Senger are coordinating their claims in order to intimidate him and impose a monetary burden without alleging any specific factual conduct beyond the legal filings themselves in support of that assertion.

“However, even if Counter-Plaintiff sufficiently established that there was an improper motivation, that alone does not establish abuse of process as long as the process at issue was utilized within the regular course of proceedings in a proper manner.

“As a result, due to the general nature of the allegations of abuse of process within the Counterclaim, Counter-Plaintiff fails to state any claim in a definite and certain manner.

“While both sides have litigated their positions in an aggressive manner, both Counter-Plaintiff and Counter-Defendant have used legal filings to attempt to protect their interests. The success or failure of those attempts alone, in and of itself, is insufficient to establish an abuse of process.”

Counter-defendant’s demurrer is sustained.

KS v. Puckett, Case No. CL21001618-00, Jan. 13, 2023. 25th Circuit Court (Reed). J. Michael Sharman, Juliet Bates for the parties. VLW 023-8-004, 6 pp.

VLW 023-8-004

Virginia Lawyers Weekly