Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Kreeger v. Wanland (Cal. Ct. App. - July 25, 2006)

Lawyers like lawsuits. Lawsuits like lawyers. Could there be a more accurate truism? This case is the latest demonstration of how lawyers and lawsuits sometimes get completely and utterly out of control.

The opinion filed today by Justice Hull is related to a previous opinion that he issued earlier this month. I commented on the earlier opinion here, noting that the underlying litigation started "with what would be universally recognized as the worst of all possible worlds -- an automobile accident between two lawyer-affiliated people." The present opinion is actually about Lawsuit #3. Lawsuit #1 was filed in 1999, as a result of an automobile accident between friends/spouses/employees of lawyers. Then Lawsuit #2 was filed in 2002 when the winner of Lawsuit #1 sued the loser (and their lawyers) for malicious prosecution. Lawsuit #2 gets dismissed on an anti-SLAPP motion, at which point Lawsuit #3 gets filed in 2004 by the winner of Lawsuit #2 (and loser of Lawsuit #1) for malicious prosecution against their adversaries (and their counsel) in Lawsuit #2.

To summarize: (1) Piddly automobile accident; (2) Malicious Prosecution lawsuit; (3) Malicious Prosecution lawsuit. Lawyers. Who doesn't love 'em.

Lawsuits #1 and #2 are now over, but Lawsuit #3 persists, as Justice Hull affirms the denial of an anti-SLAPP motion to strike Lawsuit #3. Holding -- if you can follow this one -- that plaintiffs in Lawsuit #3 might well be able to establish that the plaintiffs in Lawsuit #2 lacked probable cause to assert that the parties in Lawsuit #1 lacked probable cause.

I'll be so excited if there's a Lawsuit #4. Doesn't every little fender bender, after all, deserve seven-plus years of expensive, utterly out of control litigation?

Feel the love.