Introduction: They say in America that anyone can sue anybody for anything. But what
happens if you feel that you were sued wrongfully? The bottom example
shows you what you can do if you were sued wrongfully.
Question: Dear Mr. Cheng, I was recently sued by a former business partner. I believe
it was done wrongfully to close my business. They eventually dropped their
lawsuit. Can I sue them for wasting my time and money? David – South Pasadena
Answer: David, Abuse of Process is a cause of action that someone can use when
they sued wrongfully. The wrongfulness that one must allege is that the
person that sued you did used the legal system to accomplish a purpose
for which it was not designed. Here, you will argue that Plaintiff sued
you not because he was damaged but because he wanted to use the judicial
system to close down your business. Lawsuits are made to right wrongs,
not to compete with others.
As such, you have a good for Abuse of Process. One that is able to prove
Abuse of Process is able to receive compensatory damages, punitive damages,
and an injunction to stop the lawsuit from continuing. As a side note,
if you have been sued and have subsequently won at trial or the case has
been dismissed by the judge you can file a lawsuit for malicious prosecution.
Malicious Prosecution allows you to get all the above damages with one
additional benefit; you get your attorney’s fees. Although this
might not sound important, getting your attorney fees paid for plus damages
is a great benefit if you win.
However, you need to prove two additional points in a malicious prosecution
case that you did not needto do in an abuse of process claim. One, you
need to show that Plaintiff in that case did not have probable cause.
Probable cause means that from an objective standpoint, the Plaintiff
did not have a basis to sue you. Secondly, you need to show malice. Malice
can be defined as actual hostility or ill will on the part of the defendant
or a subjective intent to deliberately misuse the legal system for personal
gain or satisfaction at the expense of the wrongfully sued defendant.
I hope this helps.