California Supreme Court Affirms Absolute Defense to Malicious Prosecution Action

Have you ever written or received a letter threatening a malicious prosecution action? Often times the people writing and sending such letters are unaware that a malicious prosecution action is not a viable claim because of a plaintiff's interim success on a hearing on the merits. The Interim Adverse Judgment Rule is an absolute defense to a malicious prosecution action. In the first action, if there was a hearing on the merits of a claim such as a summary judgment motion and the plaintiff prevails, that victory affords a complete defense in a subsequent malicious prosecution action. This defense applies even where the plaintiff ultimately loses the first action. This month the California Supreme Court issued an opinion that confirmed the continuing vitality of this absolute defense even where the trial court in the first action determines after an interim victory that the action was brought in bad faith. The case of Parrishw v. Watkins (August 10, 2017 S228277) represents an effort to chip away at a solid and often relied on defense in malicious prosecution action.

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