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Tag Archives: malicious prosecution

Attorney settles case which alleged she engineered opposing party’s arrest

The divorce attorney and the ex-wife at the heart of Chidnese v. Chidnese, a landmark malicious prosecution claims case, have reached a settlement. The ruling in the case by the N.C. Court of Appeals set a new standard for lawyers’ liability regarding their advice to clients. Asheville attorney Steven Kropelnicki said his client, Kathy Bryan (née Chidnese), recently negotiated a settlement with Diane McDonald, the attorney who represented her husband in their divorce. The amount is confidential, Kropelnicki said.

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Civil Rights – Malicious Prosecution – Qualified Immunity – Lack of Probable Cause – Impersonating a Police Officer

Merchant v. Bauer A Fairfax County police officer could not objectively and reasonably have believed plaintiff was impersonating a police officer in violation of a Virginia statute when plaintiff, a psychologist who served as deputy director of a Maryland county correctional department, had a badge in her pocket, used air quotes to refer to her county-provided “police car,” and told the officer he should show her professional courtesy; the 4th Circuit upholds a denial of qualified immunity to the officer.

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Tort/Negligence – Malicious Prosecution – Unfair Trade Practices – Fire Insurance – Fraud Allegation – Noerr-Pennington

North Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. v. Cully’s Motorcross Park, Inc. After defendants filed counterclaims in this declaratory judgment action, the plaintiff-insurer’s investigator called a police sergeant and gave the sergeant information that the insurance investigator had known for six months. The sergeant interviewed the person who had bought the insured property from defendants (as noted in the investigator’s file) and arrested defendant Volpe for obtaining property by false pretenses. The trial court did not err in determining that plaintiff initiated the proceedings against defendant Volpe.

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Tort/Negligence – Malicious Prosecution – Public Official Immunity – Arrest Warrant – Probable Cause – Teacher Touching Students

Beeson v. Palombo Police Captain McKenzie informed a magistrate that the plaintiff-teacher had “touched [the] breast area” of two minor female students even after at least one of the students had covered herself with her arms and asked plaintiff not to touch her. This is certainly enough for a reasonable person to conclude that an offense had been committed and that plaintiff was the perpetrator. This finding of probable cause is not affected by defendant McKenzie’s failure to inform the magistrate that the minors and their parents may not have considered the matter criminal or that someone from the district attorney’s office thought there was not enough evidence to proceed with criminal charges.

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Tort/Negligence – Unfair Trade Practices – Malicious Prosecution – Obstruction of Justice – Champerty & Maintenance – Punitive Damages

Security Credit Corp. v. Mid/East Acceptance Corp. of N.C. Plaintiffs allege that, in support of a lawsuit brought against plaintiffs by a competitor, defendants lent money and provided free services to the competitor. Plaintiffs have failed to show how defendants’ alleged conduct falls within defendants’ regular business activities. Plaintiffs failed to allege that defendants’ actions were “in or affecting commerce”; consequently, plaintiffs failed to state a claim for unfair trade practices.

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Tort/Negligence – Malicious Prosecution – Sons of Confederate Veterans – Hotel Room Block – Confederate Flag – Trespassing Arrest 

Childress v. Concord Hospitality Associates, LLC According to plaintiff’s complaint, he booked a room at defendants’ hotel at a group rate offered to participants in the Sons of Confederate Veterans conference. Then, when he put a Confederate flag in his hotel room window and refused a request - made in violation of the room rental contract — to take it down, plaintiff was banned from the hotel and arrested for second-degree trespassing.

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