Abuse of Process attorney San Diego-
After an alarming number of lawsuits were brought forth in an attempt to stifle the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and petition, California’s anti-SLAPP law was brought enacted by the state Legislature to protect the petitioning and free speech rights of all Californians.
Known as a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP), this type of lawsuit infringes upon an individual’s petitioning and free speech rights by forcing the defendant to retract speech rather than invest time and money to defend against a lawsuit. SLAPP lawsuits are acts of intimidation and coercion.
Being sued for abuse of process can also constitute a SLAPP. The plaintiff in an abuse of process action accuses the defendant of using the legal system to accomplish an inappropriate and unlawful purpose, such as harassment. Petitioning the court for relief is a form of speech, so abuse of process lawsuits may be vulnerable to anti-SLAPP motions.
Determining if Abuse of Process has occurred
An abuse of process lawsuit must prove that the defendant committed a willful act of using a criminal or civil legal process against the plaintiff to accomplish an inappropriate purpose. However, the litigation privilege provided by Civil Code § 47(b)(2) protects statements made during legal proceedings.
During the court process, litigants are allowed to honestly and diligently plead their cases without fear of retribution. Defending an abuse of process lawsuit requires the services of an attorney who specializes in these cases. Abuse of process cases are often susceptible to anti-SLAPP motions, which requests early dismissal and payment of attorney fees.
Further relief may be earned by filing a “SLAPPback” lawsuit. SLAPPback allows the party making a successful anti-SLAPP motion to file a separate lawsuit against the plaintiff to recover damages.
Ryan T. Darby represents abuse of process defendants and specializes in anti-SLAPP motions and SLAPPback lawsuits.