In California, the tort of malicious prosecution requires that the plaintiff demonstrate that the defendant commenced or maintained an action without probable cause, that terminated in the plaintiff's favor, resulting in damages, with malice. In other words, â€œTo establish a cause of action for the malicious prosecution of a civil proceeding, a plaintiff must plead and prove that the prior action (1) was commenced by or at the direction of the defendant and was
pursued to a legal termination in his, plaintiffâ€™s, favor; (2) was brought without probable cause; and (3) was initiated with malice.â€ (Bertero v. National General Corp. (1974) 13 Cal.3d 43, 50 [118 Cal.Rptr. 184,
529 P.2d 608], internal citations omitted.)
c Restatement Second of Torts section 674 provides: One who takes an active part in the initiation, continuation or procurement of civil proceedings against another is subject to liability to the other for wrongful civil proceedings if (a) he acts without probable cause, and primarily for a
purpose other than that of securing the proper adjudication of the claim in which the proceedings are based, and
(b) except when they are ex parte, the proceedings have terminated in favor of the person against whom they are brought.
c â€œThe malicious commencement of a civil proceeding is actionable because it harms the individual against whom the claim is made, and also because it threatens the efficient administration of justice. The
individual is harmed because he is compelled to defend against a fabricated claim which not only subjects him to the panoply of
psychological pressures most civil defendants suffer, but also the
additional stress of attempting to resist a suit commenced out of spite or ill will, often magnified by slanderous allegations in the pleadings.â€ (Merlet v. Rizzo (1998) 64 Cal.App.4th 53, 59 [75 Cal.Rptr.2d 83],
internal citation omitted.) c A person who had no part in the commencement of the action but who participated in it at a later time may be held liable for malicious
prosecution: â€œThere does not appear to be any good reason not to impose liability upon a person who inflicts harm by aiding or abetting a malicious prosecution which someone else has instituted.â€ (Lujan v.
Gordon (1977) 70 Cal.App.3d. 260, 264 [138 Cal.Rptr. 654].)
Last listing added: 07/17/07