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Ben Glass
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Court orders lawsuit against John Grisham reinstated.

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The Supreme Court of Virginia has overruled a trial court and ruled that a lawsuit filed by a woman alleging that legal thriller author John Grisham intentionally inflicted emotional distress on her be allowed to go forward. The lawsuit, filed by Katharine Almy, alleged that Grisham and a co-defendant agreed to obtain documents bearing Almy’s handwriting from her children’s file at a local school. Almy alleged that Grisham, suspecting that Almy had written an anonymous letter to him, was trying to obtain writing samples from her to be analyzed by a handwriting expert.

Almy alleged that Grisham’s handwriting expert concluded that it was “possible” that Almy had written the letters and that she “appeared” to have addressed the envelopes containing the letters. She alleged that Grisham met with the local prosecutor and allegedly told him that his handwriting expert concluded that Almy had written some of the anonymous letters and had addressed the envelopes containing those letters. Sometime after that conversation, a local police detective visited Almy at her house to confront her about the letters. Almy asserted that as a result of the detective’s visit, she suffered severe emotional distress. Almy also alleged that when she later learned that Grisham had obtained materials from certain files at the school containing confidential information about Almy’s children, that she felt “extremely violated, outraged, deeply disturbed and worried.” As a result she allegedly suffered a serious “set back” in her depression.

While the lower court had thrown the case out, (after, it seems, some real fireworks) the Supreme Court of Virginia ruled that Almy’s pleadings had stated a legitimate cause of action against Grisham and others. The Court did not rule on the merits of the claim, but simply sent the case back to the trial court for further proceedings including, probably, a trial.

Grisham is the author of “The Pelican Brief,” The Firm,” and “The Runaway Jury.” Almy’s attorney, Bernard J. DiMuro, (Alexandria, VA) was quoted in the Washington Post as saying that Almy “became the victim and wrongful target of the Barney Fife-style investigation initiated by Mr. Grisham and [co-defendants] that tarnished her reputation in the community while inflicting severe emotional distress.”

Grisham’s attorney, Thomas Albro, of Charlottesville, was quoted in the Post as saying that the author “had no intention of causing this woman any emotional distress or harm.”