Dovichi v. De La Vergne

Brian Powers headshotAfter a six and a half week trial in a very complex and bitterly contested case, Brian obtained an excellent verdict for his clients in a “malicious prosecution” case. In the underlying case, Brian’s clients sued the Dovichis, their next door neighbors, for a prescriptive easement relating to a one foot strip of land that they alleged they had used continuously and without interruption for 13 years. They also sued for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress and elder abuse related to conduct by the Dovichis in relation to the dispute. All of the causes of action in the underlying case were dismissed by the court.

The Dovichis then sued for wrongful use of civil proceedings. The other defendants were the clients’ attorney in the underlying case and their daughter who was alleged to have “instituted” the underlying suit by advising and encouraging her parents to file it. At the settlement conference, the settlement demand was $1 Million from all defendants. The Dovichis sought damages including attorneys’ fees in the amount of $150,000, medical expenses of $1,920 and emotional distress damages for Mrs. Dovichi, and punitive damages. Although it found one of Brian’s clients liable, the jury awarded attorneys’ fees of only $75,003, medical expenses of $500, no non-economic damages, and no basis for punitive damages. The jury found the clients’ former attorney not liable and the court dismissed the clients’ daughter based on a finding that she had probable cause to institute the lawsuit.

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