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Limits on Malicious Prosecution Claims in California

CERTAIN SITUATIONS BAR OR LIMIT MALICIOUS PROSECUTION CLAIMS

Under California law, the existence of certain facts and situations can make it impossible (or difficult) to file a malicious prosecution claim. Generally, these situations create “privileges” on behalf of certain defendants (or potential defendants) rendering them immune from malicious prosecution suits or liable only in specified circumstances.

While the following are not the only such cases, they are a few of the more common privilege-related bars to malicious prosecution suits:

— Government Entities (& Their Employees). Government entities and public employees are generally immune from malicious prosecution claims when acting within the course and scope of their employment.

— People Who File State Bar Complaints Against Attorneys. California Civil Code Section 47 contains protections (from civil liability) for people who report attorney misconduct, disability, or incompetence to the proper disciplinary authority. These protections are generally inclusive of claims that the report was a form of malicious prosecution.

— Other Statutory Protections. Other California laws can also provide protection against malicious prosecution claims, either directly or as a part of larger protections against suits and claims.

For example, Civil Code Section 43.8 says that “there shall be no monetary liability on the part of,and no cause of action for damages shall arise against, any person on account of the communication of information in the possession of that person to [any covered person or entity]” where the information was “intended to aid in the evaluation of the qualifications, fitness, character, or insurability of a practitioner of the healing or veterinary arts.” In simpler terms, the statute prohibits claims against people who provide truthful information to help evaluate the qualifications of doctors, veterinarians, and similar health care providers.

Generally, these statutory protections are designed to encourage communication of important (often health and safety related) information that might otherwise remain confidential in situations where disclosure could possibly prevent additional harm to members of the public. As in many other cases, the law weighs the dangers of barring malicious prosecution suits against the potential risk to the public; in certain cases, the risks weigh in favor of offering “safe harbor” in exchange for disclosure of important information.

If you believe you have been the victim of a malicious prosecution — or if you currently face prosecution (either legitimately or on terms you believe unjustified or unwarranted by law) — contact an attorney immediately for a personalized evaluation of your legal rights. Do not delay; the passage of time might damage your right to recover.

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Disclaimer: THIS ARTICLE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY, AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE OR CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE AUTHOR AND ANY PERSON. Your rights and experiences may vary. Never use an online article (including this one) to evaluate your legal claims. Speak with an experienced lawyer promptly to obtain a personalized evaluation of your claims, possible damages, and options. You may lose or compromise your rights if you delay in consulting legal counsel. Malicious prosecution claims are complicated and fact-dependent. If you believe you have a claim against a property owner who permitted or failed to repair a dangerous condition, or any other type of legal claim, consult an experienced lawyer immediately for an evaluation of your possible rights and claims.

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