I just had this same problem. The message I got was identical and the command prompt which had the logs showed no exceptions at all. What's strange is that it was working just fine an hour prior. I tried rebooting, recompiling, etc., etc.
Finally I remembered that I had changed the name of a Filter that I was using, that was referenced in the web.xml file. Once I corrected this in my web.xml, everything returned to normal.
Normally when a class defn is incorrect you'll get a classNotFound or other exception in the logs. I don't know if this is just a bug in Apache when loading filters or if it will happen with other classes.
So, you may want to try scanning your web.xml for any mis-spelled or missing classes that the server is trying to load.