Who Can Be Sued For Malicious Prosecution?
The law says that liability ultimately lies with those “responsible” for engaging in malicious prosecution. However, liability does not necessarily attach to everyone involved in the relevant legal action or proceeding.
PARTIES TO LEGAL ACTIONS MAY BE HELD LIABLE FOR MALICIOUS PROSECUTION.
Individuals (or entities) that unsuccessfully prosecute a legal action or engage in legal processes under inappropriate circumstances and with legally-sufficient malice may be held liable for malicious prosecution. Before bringing a lawsuit against another person, consult with legal counsel, and do not bring suit for inappropriate reasons or without sufficient legal foundation.
AGENTS WHO ARE ACTIVE AND INSTRUMENTAL IN THE PROSECUTION MAY BE HELD LIABLE FOR MALICIOUS PROSECUTION.
Agents are people who act on behalf of others. In the case of malicious prosecutions, an agent (whether an individual or an entity, like a corporation) that “instigates or procures” and is “actively instrumental” in an action which gives rise to malicious prosecution claims may also be held liable for malicious prosecution. (See, Jacques Interiors v. Petrak (1987) 188 Cal.App.3d 1363).
People should exercise caution when acting on behalf of others in the litigation context, and consult with independent legal counsel before joining, instigating, or taking an active role in litigation.
LEGAL COUNSEL MAY BE HELD LIABLE FOR MALICIOUS PROSECUTION
Attorneys who initiate and prosecute a qualifying action may be held personally liable for malicious prosecution, as can lawyers who associate into or become involved in the action at a later date (and continue it, rather than arranging for dismissal or termination on grounds that the action was unfounded). That said, attorneys may legally rely on information provided by clients, and will not necessarily be held liable for malicious prosecution if they have no reason to doubt or suspect that a client’s information is inaccurate or incomplete. In other words: the fact that a plaintiff or other party is liable for malicious prosecution does not necessarily mean that his or her lawyer is also liable.
The law does not generally hold a person or entity liable for malicious prosecution unless the individual or entity – whether litigant, agent, or attorney – was an active participant in the legal process that gave rise to the malicious prosecution claim. If you believe that you have been wrongfully sued, or that you have a malicious prosecution claim against another person, do not delay – consult an attorney immediately for an evaluation of your legal rights.
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 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.