Philadelphia Dragonetti Act Lawyers – Filing A Lawsuit With No Probable Cause

The purpose of filing a civil lawsuit is to right a wrong, but all too often lawsuits are filed for malicious or vindictive purposes. When a person or entity is named in a lawsuit for which there is no probable cause and no merit, it can cause them tremendous amounts of resources and time. Depending upon the scope and claim of the suit it can have a negative impact on their reputation, can cost them lost wages and legal fees, and can cause tremendous unnecessary stress. It also creates a drain on the court system itself. Filing a lawsuit in this way is punishable under a statute known as the Dragonetti Act.

A Dragonetti claim is a lawsuit that is filed for wrongful use of the civil courts system. It refers to a law that was passed in the state of Pennsylvania following a lawsuit that named Joseph Dragonetti, a Philadelphia reporter, as a defendant in a case filed against a company for whom he did marketing and public relations work. In that suit a large local bank was trying to recover monies owed to them. Because the courts found that Dragonetti had nothing to do with the debt, the claim against him was dismissed. Dragonetti subsequently filed a lawsuit for the costs that he had incurred, but his suit was unsuccessful based on existing law, so he successfully pushed to have a statute passed that would afford victims of frivolous lawsuits the right to be compensated for damages.

Since that time, plaintiffs that file lawsuits maliciously or that misuse and tie up the resources of the court systems are subject to Dragonetti claims. The Philadelphia law firm of Bochetto & Lentz is knowledgeable and experienced in proving wrongful use of civil courts claims. If you have been the subject of a lawsuit that is filed without probable cause, we can help.

Dragonetti claims require a few basic elements. They are:

  • The lawsuit must have been filed in a way that is grossly negligent and without probable cause. This element establishes that the reason for the claim being filed is not really to adjudicate a claim but rather for another purpose, such as to cost the defendant money in court costs.
  • The lawsuit must have resulted in the case against the defendant having been terminated  in the defendant’s favor.

In addition to these elements, it is important to note that in order for a Dragonetti claim to be filed it is not necessary for the person who was wrongfully named as a defendant to have been arrested or for any of their property to have been seized. This is the change that the Dragonetti Act made to existing law.  Previously those specific damages needed to have been incurred in order for a wrongful use lawsuit to be filed.

Because of this change, those who have suffered damages such as stress, legal costs, lost wages and loss of reputation are entitled to file a wrongful use claim. Bochetto & Lentz have successfully recovered punitive damages for Dragonetti claims and can provide those who have been the subject of malicious lawsuits with skilled representation.