When is an Action “Terminated” for Purposes of Malicious Prosecution?
THE UNDERLYING ACTION GIVING RISE TO MALICIOUS PROSECUTION CLAIMS MUST BE “FINALLY TERMINATED” BEFORE A PARTY CAN BRING THE CLAIM FOR MALICIOUS PROSECUTION.
The elements of a successful malicious prosecution claim include “full, final, and favorable” resolution of the underlying claim. The “favorable” element must be fulfilled in favor of the party claiming malicious prosecution — typically the defendant in the underlying action. If that party does not prevail on the claim(s) and/or causes of action upon which the claim of malicious prosecution rests, the malicious prosecution claim will not succeed.
WHAT CONSTITUTES “FINAL” TERMINATION OF AN ACTION IN THIS CONTEXT?
“Final termination” of a legal action may occur in many ways, but for malicious prosecution purposes “final” termination generally requires either a final judgment (with no further appeals permitted) or equivalent status. Termination of a single cause of action, or even several, in the defendant’s favor will not generally constitute “final termination” for purposes of supporting a malicious prosecution claim if other portions of the proceeding remain in litigation or subject to court review.
While final termination does not necessarily require a resolution that bars all further litigation between the parties, it does generally require expiration of applicable appeal periods on the order or judgment that ended the action in the defendant’s favor.
The question, for purposes of determining whether an action has been finally terminated, is normally whether time and grounds exist for appeal of the decision or judgment that ended the action. Malicious prosecution actions should not generally be filed before judgment is entered in the defendant’s favor and the time for all appeals have run (without an appeal being filed or with the appeal also resolving the case in favor of the party who seeks to prove malicious prosecution). While exceptions may vary, this is the general rule.
If you believe someone has wrongfully filed or maintained a legal action against you, do not rely on this or any other online or printed article to evaluate your legal rights. Consult an experienced attorney promptly for an individual consultation and analysis of your legal rights and claims. Delay may damage your right to recover, or even prevent you from filing suit or recovering on your claims.
Disclaimer: THIS ARTICLE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY, AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE OR CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE AUTHOR OR THIS WEBSITE 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 someone who wrongfully instituted a legal action against you, or any other type of legal claim, consult an experienced lawyer immediately for an evaluation of your possible rights and claims.