Sunday, January 30, 2005

Hudis v. Crawford (Cal. Ct. App. - January 27, 2005)

I've often thought that the "favorable termination" prong in malicious prosecution actions is a fairly strange duck. And this case reinforces that view. It's holding is exactly what you would expect: Justice Mihara finds that a lawsuit that's dismissed based upon plaintiff's lack of standing doesn't satisfy the favorable termination requirement since the basis for the dismissal was on procedural, rather than substantive, grounds.

That's indeed consistent with my understanding of California law on this issue, so I guess I shouldn't complain. But the various limitations that the California courts have grafted on to the favaorable termination prong -- including this one -- still strike me as odd. So when I maliciously file a lawsuit against President Clinton claiming that he groped Paula Jones, and Clinton (rightfully) gets my lawsuit dismissed on standing grounds because I'm not Paula (and, indeed, have nothing to do with her), why should I (and my lawyer) be immune from a malicious prosecution claim? We filed the suit just to harm him, and it clearly lacked merit. Why does the favorable termination requirement protect me? And should Clinton be forced to spend the time and effort to defend and win the suit on the merits if he wants to set up a malicious prosecution claim; why not just let him get it dismissed the easy way and still be able to sue? Many of these limitations just don't make much doctrinal sense to me.