SW Legal Educational Publishing

Malicious Prosecution Suit Against City Officials Met Necessary Elements to Proceed
Description A Tennessee appeals court reversed a lower court and held that two citizens who had previously been sued by city officials for defamation, a suit that was dismissed, would be allowed to proceed with their suit for malicious prosecution since the necessary elements to go to trial had been met.
Topic Torts
Key Words Malicious Prosecution
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Two citizens who frequently attended city council meetings, and did not get along with city council members, told the media that city commissioners changed the minutes of a city council meeting in violation of state law. The city attorney sued the two citizens for defamation of city officials. The trial court dismissed that suit. The citizens then filed a malicious prosecution suit against the city attorney and the council members. The trial court dismissed the suit. The citizens appealed.
Decision Reversed. "In order to prevail on a malicious prosecution claim, a plaintiff must prove that (1) a prior suit or judicial proceeding was instituted without probable cause, (2) the defendant brought such prior action with malice, and (3) the prior action was finally terminated in plaintiff's favor." The third element was clearly met. As to the second element, there is also testimony that indicates malice on the part of city officials. As to the first element, it is clear that the citizens had good reason to believe that the meeting records had been changed. Suit will go to trial.
Citation Kelley v. Tomlinson, 2000 WL 775308 (Ct. App., Tenn., 2000)

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