Claim Must be Frivolous to Support a Fee Award for Malicious Prosecution


In Fabbrini v. The City of Dunsmuir, 2011 DJDAR 2372 (9th Circuit 2011), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided an interesting fee issue arising in the context of a malicious prosecution claim and California’s anti-SLAPP Statute, C.C.P. § 425.16.

The City of Dunsmuir (Dunsmuir) initiated legal proceedings against David Fabbrini (Fabbrini) for his failure to provide the proper promised collateral for a municipal loan. The lawsuit also contained a cause of action for declaratory relief, seeking a ruling on the respective parties’ rights and obligations as well as a claim for fraud. The City voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit.

After receiving notice of the dismissal, Fabbrini filed suit against the City in federal court, alleging malicious prosecution under 28 U.S.C. Section 1983. Fabbrini also included a claim for defamation. The district court granted the City’s motion to strike the defamation claim under California’s anti-SLAPP statute. The court, however, rejected the motion as to the malicious prosecution count.

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