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Malicious prosecution caveats

Discussion in 'Civil Court, Procedure & Litigation' started by Kevinskisfast, Nov 30, 2020.

  1. Kevinskisfast

    Kevinskisfast Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    Georgia
    We had another law "debate" in class and my prof and I have two opposing views (of course, I have to agree with his view if I want to have any chance of passing at all). The subject was malicious prosecution and the scenario goes like this (hypothetical): John and Dave were once friends but a bitter disagreement ended their friendship. John hatched a plan that he could frame Dave for a crime and then sue him in court for everything he has. John decided to mail himself a letter from the town Dave lives in. The letter said, "I am going to kill you if you don't pay me $1M. You know who this is." John then calls the police, feigns being in mortal danger, tells the police that he believes Dave is behind this, and begs them to investigate/provide protection. It ends with Dave being questioned over the phone, no ties to the letter being made, and John getting a police report of the incident.
    Two months later John sues Dave for placing him in mortal danger. The judge rules in Dave's favor due to lack of evidence that Dave had anything to do with this. Dave-rattled and upset-decides to sue John on the grounds of malicious prosecution. He proves that the previous case was ruled in his favor, that John was the prime active player in it, that he had no probable cause/that it was baseless, and that he suffered compensatory damages. Dave is seeking relief for both compensatory and punitive damages.
    My prof has explained that in a civil case like this that Dave would more than likely receive zero because he can not "prove" he had nothing to do with the original threat, but rather that the threat is inconclusive. My understanding from what I have read is that Dave should have enough evidence in this scenario to receive relief. John's entire lawsuit is baseless. Please correct me if I missed something.
     
  2. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    I agree with your prof. If you don't agree with your prof, discuss it with your prof.
     
    hrforme likes this.
  3. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Are we to assume that all this is happening in Georgia? If not, what is the relevant jurisdiction?

    Also, what class is this "debate" occurring in? Is this a law school or undergrad class?

    That's patently silly. No such cause of action exists, and John has suffered no actionable damages.

    Was was the procedural posture of this ruling? The suit should have been thrown out on a motion to dismiss without consideration of any evidence (or lack thereof).

    This doesn't make a lot of sense. First, you told us that Dave "prove[d]" that "John was the prime active player in" the initial lawsuit. I'm not sure if that means anything more than that John was the plaintiff in the underlying lawsuit, which is a big "duh." However, you also told us that Dave "prove[d]" that John's underlying lawsuit "had no probable cause." What exactly does that mean, and how did Dave "prove[]" this?

    As far as the "likely" outcome of this malicious prosecution statute, the first consideration is whether John could get Dave's suit thrown out pursuant to Georgia's anti-SLAPP law (if you don't know what "anti-SLAPP" means, I suggest you google it). I don't know any specifics about Georgia's anti-SLAPP law, but in at least some states, its application in the context of malicious prosecution cases has effectively killed malicious prosecution as a viable tort cause of action.

    As far as what your professor thinks, the typical elements of malicious prosecution are that the defendant initiated a prior lawsuit with malice and without probable cause, that the lawsuit was resolved on the merits in favor of the malicious prosecution plaintiff, and that the malicious prosecution plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the underlying suit. The malicious prosecution plaintiff (Dave) does not need to "'prove' that he had nothing to do with the original threat. You told us that Dave "prove[d]" that John's underlying lawsuit "had no probable cause," so all that should remain for him to prove is the malice element (again, assuming he can survive an anti-SLAPP motion).

    We have no idea what evidence "Dave should have." We've not read the materials you were given.
     
  4. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    I think you need to find yourself a better law school. LOL.
     
  5. Kevinskisfast

    Kevinskisfast Law Topic Starter New Member

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    School is Mercer U. Yes, your statement about it being silly IS silly. The whole scenaro is a fictional one that my prof came up with. He will pick our minds with these-ugh. Yes, Adjusterjack-a new law school may be just what the doctor ordered.
    I just thought from what I have read from various prestigious law sources, that I was right and not my prof. Clearly, I look like a fool with these questions. I really DO need to quit Mercer and look elsewhere.
     
  6. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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  7. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    There's nothing wrong with hypotheticals. They're designed to make you think critically.

    That said, I asked some questions you didn't answer.

    What class is this? I'm guessing maybe torts or civil procedure, but I can't recall ever discussing malicious prosecution in any law school class.

    Was was the procedural posture of the ruling that resulted in the dismissal of Lawsuit #1 (John v. Dave)? This is a question you should always be able to answer, and if your prof hasn't given you the information, asking this question should make you look smart.

    P.S. I would not be so quick to dismiss a law school based on USN&WR rankings.
     

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