By order dated April 4, 2017, the Michigan Supreme Court recently ruled to let stand a prior victory achieved in the Michigan Court of Appeals in the matter of Boladian et al v. Thennisch, et al, Unpublished Mich. Ct. of App., issued April 12, 2016 (Docket #No. 324737). In Boladian¸ a lawyer was sued for, among other things, malicious prosecution, abuse of process and defamation, arising from the failed prosecution of civil matters against a music publishing company and its owner. The Lispon Neilson legal team of Phillip E. Seltzer, C. Thomas Ludden, and Samantha Heraud, obtained summary dismissal of the referenced claims in the trial court and defended that result on ensuing appeals.
The Boladian Court of Appeals panel affirmed the trial court’s rulings. Boladian is the first Michigan case to reject a multiplicity of legal proceedings as constituting a “special injury” — a necessary requirement to prove a malicious prosecution claim. Noting Michigan’s “special injury” requirement, the Court of Appeals refused to expand the notion of “special injury” beyond the English common law rule – previously adopted in Michigan — which does not include defending multiple legal proceedings (or, in this case, multiple post judgment motions that sought relief from various settlements in different civil lawsuits involving plaintiffs).
Furthermore, the Court of Appeals affirmed summary dismissal of the abuse of process claim against the attorney, determining that an alleged settlement demand for $1 million in exchange for a promise of not filing a damaging and supposedly defamatory affidavit, failed to demonstrate the required ulterior or collateral purpose necessary to sustain the tort. Demanding settlement is not collateral to maintaining a lawsuit, especially one that seeks monetary damages. Further, no showing was made that the demand was beyond the realm of potential damages in the underlying case.
The Boladian Court also rejected the argument that there was an “ulterior motive” based on the desire of the lawyers to “drum up business” by leaking an alleged defamatory story about Plaintiffs’ business practices to the media, finding that this was either a part of a time barred defamation claim that had previously been dismissed and, further, because supplying information to the media is “action outside legal proceedings” and not applicable to an abuse of process claim.
To learn more about this case, please contact Phillip E. Seltzer at 248-593-5000.