Do you know a person who is constantly threatening to sue, no matter what the circumstances or how slight the offense or wrong that has been done to them? In most cases these people are all talk, or maybe they’re just a bully. A lot of people end up getting their way simply by threatening to file a lawsuit. There are also some who actually go ahead and file a lawsuit, even though they know that their claim is not valid. This is what’s known as a frivolous lawsuit, and it ends up costing everybody involved a lot of time and money for no good reason. Fortunately, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania there’s a law that was specifically passed to try to prevent people from filing frivolous lawsuits, and to punish those who are proven to have done so. It’s called the Dragonetti Act.
The Dragonetti Act was passed by the Pennsylvania legislature in 1980, and its specific purpose is to address the “wrongful use of civil proceedings.” It allows anybody who has been taken to court by another person in a grossly negligent manner or without probable cause, and whose case has been terminated in favor of the person who had to defend themselves, to file a lawsuit against the person who brought the case. The original defendant does not need to have been arrested or lost property or assets in order to file the case: they just need to show that they were the subject of “malicious prosecution.”
Once there has been a final resolution of the original case, the person who was the original defendant can file a claim under the Dragonetti Act seeking compensation for reputation damage, attorneys’ fees, emotional distress and even punitive damages. If the original defendant can show that the person who filed the original lawsuit against them knew that their claim was invalid and had no probable cause, there is a very good chance that an experienced Dragonetti Act attorney will be able to successfully exact justice on behalf of the person who was brought into court for no good reason. It is important to note that attorneys or others who acted in good faith in pursuing a frivolous lawsuit cannot be held responsible for their good faith reliance on the representations made to them, and the same is true for clients that acted in reliance of the advice that was provided to them by their attorney.