How many times have you been involved in, or witnessed, a conflict in which one of the parties involved threatened to sue if they did not get their way. Though there are certainly many situations where some type of breach has taken place and seeking a legal remedy is perfectly appropriate, it is also true that we live in a highly litigious society in which people feel free to simply file a frivolous lawsuit in order to express their anger or frustration, or even to try to tie up the other party in court, forcing them to pay unnecessary legal expenses in order to defend themselves. It is generally expected that when a client approaches an attorney and says that they want to sue, the attorney will carefully review the circumstances and advise their client about the wisdom of pursuing a lawsuit. One of the reasons that lawyers do this is because of concerns about the Dragonetti Act. The Dragonetti Act is a law that specifically protects people from frivolous lawsuits. If you believe that you are being taken to court for reasons that are less than valid and that the opposing side’s attorney is aware of that, then call the law firm of Bochetto & Lentz. We will review the situation and determine whether it is appropriate to evoke the Dragonetti Act on your behalf.
The Dragonetti Act specifically addresses what the Pennsylvania legislature has referred to as the “wrongful use of civil proceedings.” It makes a person who has become involved in a lawsuit negligently, without probable cause and for the apparent intention of tying the other party up in court legally liable for the costs of the proceedings, as well as damages. Dragonetti is used when the lawsuit that was the catalyst ends in favor of the person that it was brought against, and when it is believed that the suit itself was a “malicious use of process” or “malicious prosecution.”
In order to pursue a Dragonetti action, the initial lawsuit needs to have already been terminated, either as a result of a court’s decision or because the person pursuing the case terminates it voluntarily. It is also necessary that there is negligence involved on the part of the attorney pursuing the case, though it may be that the attorney was relying upon the information provided by their client, or that the client was relying upon the information provided by their attorney. What is most important, and often most difficult to prove, is that the point of the original lawsuit was without a basis in fact or law, and was filed with that knowledge. Though this can be a difficult burden of proof, if you believe that you are the victim of a frivolous lawsuit it is important that you take action. The Philadelphia law firm of Bochetto & Lentz has a record of success in helping clients that are being harassed in this way, and we can help you too.