VA: Underlying personal injury action
Facts: Plaintiff, Ayyildiz is a doctor who was sued for malpractice by his patient, Grubb, and won the suit. Thereafter, Ayyildiz filed a motion for judgment against Grubb’s counsel, Edward S. Kidd, Jr., alleging malicious prosecution, seeking damages by way of money spent to defend the medical malpractice action, loss of present and future earnings and profits in the practice of medicine and injury to Ayyildiz’s professional reputation.
Furthermore, Ayyildiz’s motion contained a second count that alleged that Kidd fell below the legal standards of the community in which he practiced and that Ayyildiz incurred damages due to Kidd’s willful or negligent acts.
The trial court sustained Kidd’s demurrer, holding that an action for malicious prosecution cannot be brought from a civil action unless the plaintiff was arrested, his property was seized or there was a special injury.
1. Will an action for malicious prosecution in a civil case be maintained where the plaintiff was not arrested, there has been no seizure of property or special injury?
2. Do allegations of loss of earnings and profits, damage to professional reputation and money spent to defend a maliciously prosecuted medical malpractice action constitute special injury?
3. Is Kidd liable for negligence to Ayyildiz arising out of the medical malpractice case?
1. No. In malicious prosecution actions arising out of civil proceedings, the plaintiff must allege and prove an arrest, seizure of property or special injury incurred to maintain said action.
2. No. Ayyildiz’s allegations do not constitute a special injury to sustain an action for malicious prosecution.
3. No. Kidd was under no legal duty to Ayyildiz and was therefore not liable for negligence to him.
Lesson: A prevailing party has no cause of action against the adverse party’s attorney for malicious prosecution. Generally, an attorney’s liability for damages is only to his client, based arising from some duty owed to the client.