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What is malicious prosecution in a civil case?

You’ve probably heard of malicious prosecution in terms of criminal cases and prosecutorial overreach, but did you know that malicious prosecution can also happen in civil claims? They can — and when they do, they can be very destructive to your life and business.

Occasionally, someone will file civil lawsuits that have no real merit simply to harass, intimidate or embarrass the other party. In some instances, the plaintiff may use the lawsuit — or a series of lawsuits — as a method of extortion (promising to drop the suit in exchange for what he or she really wants). Other times, the plaintiff’s intention is to basically defame the defendant by making accusations about the defendant’s business public and hurting their reputation in their community.

For example, imagine that Andy runs and accounting business. He ends up in a romantic relationship with Beth, the wife of one of his ex-clients, Calvin. Calvin is angry about the affair between Andy and Beth, so he files a baseless lawsuit alleging that Andy had embezzled money from Calvin’s business. While there turns out to be no evidence that Andy did anything wrong, and the case is eventually dismissed, Andy loses several high-profile clients due to the publicity surrounding the lawsuit.

If you’re the victim of malicious prosecution from an angry competitor, ex-business partner, disgruntled employee or anybody else, you do have the capacity to fight back through legal means. You may be able to recover your actual losses, plus compensation for your damaged reputation, attorney fees and more. Talk to an attorney with experience handling malicious prosecution claims about your economic damages to learn more.