Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Appeals Court Upholds Suit against Carlos Negrete

(I happen to be one of those who was sued, so this case is naturally of interest to me. - PL)

Appeals Court Upholds Suit against Carlos Negrete

Click here for background information on the case

(from the article.....)

As to point number one, the district court correctly concluded that Negrete's voluntary dismissal of the underlying action constituted a termination favorable to Barrett. See MacDonald v. Joslyn, 275 Cal. App. 2d 282, 289 (1969) (holding that a "voluntary dismissal of a civil action or proceeding by the plaintiff therein. . . is a favorable termination which will support an action for malicious prosecution").

As to point two, in his malicious prosecution complaint Barrett alleged that the defendants instituted their action against him without probable cause to believe that their allegations were true. In his declaration, Barrett denied committing any of the numerous acts of which he had been accused, and averred that the defendants had no basis to believe otherwise. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, Barrett's declaration is a sufficient prima facie showing that the defendants lacked probable cause.

Lack of probable cause can also be inferred from the severity and sensational nature of the crimes alleged by Negrete and Clark,1 when juxtaposed to their failure to provide any factual support or identify any illegal conduct. When called on to put up or shut up, they shut up - Negrete and Clark voluntarily dismissed their cross-complaint rather than respond to Barrett's discovery requests for the proof of their allegations. This creates a strong inference that Negrete and Clark lacked probable cause for their accusations.

As to point three – malice – some California courts have held that malice may be inferred solely from the lack of probable cause. See Mattel, Inc. v. Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps, 99 Cal. App. 4th 1179, 1191 (2002). Others have held that the absence of probable cause alone is insufficient to support an inference of malice and presence of malice must be established by other, additional facts. George F. Hillenbrand, Inc. v. Ins. Co. of North America, 104 Cal. App. 4th 784, 819 (2002). Barrett prevails under either standard. The scurrilous nature of the defendants' allegations of wrongdoing and their efforts to publicize them widely on the Internet, when coupled with their utter failure to offer any proof of their charges, gives rise to a compelling inference of malice.

The district court's judgment is REVERSED and this case is REMANDED for further proceedings.2

(there's more.....!)