Christ v. Flinthill Space Comm. Trust, 2013 WL 3771178 (Va. June 17, 2013).
In this divorce case, the plaintiff and her counsel were fined $880,748.26 for using abusive, “vindictive” discovery tactics. In a complicated divorce proceeding involving the split of a trust held by the defendant, the plaintiff used the legal proceedings to harass the defendant. The plaintiff requested pendente lite relief before the divorce proceedings in 2005, which the Circuit Court granted, directing the defendant to relinquish all documents relating to the trust at that time. The parties exchanged a vast amount of financial information, but disagreed to the “extent and completeness” of the discovery process. The plaintiff never exercised her legal remedies for the unsatisfactory discovery period. The parties then entered into a stipulation dividing the assets of the trust. The stipulation limited the plaintiff’s further accountings of the trust until after the final distributions. Regardless, the plaintiff and her counsel requested multiple documents, (most of which they either already had or did not have a legal right to until the trust disbursement was complete, according to the court) and explanations of the defendant and his counsel. The defendant and his counsel accommodated them. After 16 months of preparation, the plaintiff non-suited on the day of trial. The defendant and his counsel moved for sanctions, claiming they were swamped with fees from a baseless suit. Consequently, the court imposed sanctions against Ms. Christ and her attorneys for abuse of the discovery process.