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New York Abuse of Process

In this post, I’m going to go over the tort of Abuse of Process under New York law. I went over Abuse of Process under California law in a prior post. As a refresher, a tort is something a person who has been wronged can file a civil lawsuit over. The plaintiff in such a suit most often requests some amount of money from the defendant, although other types of relief (e.g. declaratory, injunctive, etc) are possible also.

As it is in California, many torts in New York are element-based. In other words, there are a set number of criteria for that tort. The plaintiff establishes the defendant’s liability for the tort by proving that each of those elements are met. In New York, the criteria for Abuse of Process are:

  • regularly issued legal process, civil or criminal, compelling performance or forbearance of some act, and
  • the person activating the process was moved by an ulterior purpose to do harm, without economic or social excuse or justification, and
  • the person activating the process south some collateral advantage or corresponding detriment to the plaintiff that is outside the legitimate ends of the process, and
  • plaintiff suffers actual or special damage.

Based on my cursory research, there seem to be quite a few cases in New York that lay out these criteria. I could be wrong, but it looks like all of those cases stem from a 1975 Court of Appeals of New York case called Board of Education of Farmingdale Union Free School District v. Farmingdale Classroom Teachers Association, Inc Local 1889 AFT AFL-CIO (38 NY2d 397). The case is available on Google Scholar for free. As a reminder, the Court of Appeals of New York is the highest court in the state of New York.

As always, I hope this post was helpful. It was not meant to be an exhaustive or comprehensive discussion of the tort of Abuse of Process in New York law. If you are going to rely on the information presented above, please do your own research as it is entirely possible that the law cited above might have changed in the time between when this post was written and when you’re reading it. If you do need to do your own research, hopefully the links provided above help you do that. If you do have a situation involving an Abuse of Process suit in New York, I encourage you to find an attorney in your area with whom you can discuss your case.

Lastly, as this is a New York-focused post, I do have to say this: As of the date of this post, I do not have a physical office in New York state, even though I have been licensed to practice law in New York state since 2012. Thus, under New York Judiciary Law section 470, I am not able to represent clients in New York state. I encourage you to check the contact info section of my website, though, because even though I don’t have a physical office in New York at the time of this writing, it is possible I may have an office in New York at the you’re reading this. Even if I do not, though, I am happy to make a referral for you if I happen to know of an attorney who can help you.

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Andy Chen

Andy I. Chen is a lawyer licensed to practice law in California and New York. Andy maintains offices in Los Altos, California and Modesto, California. Under the New York Court of Appeals' 2015 decision in Schoenefeld v. State of New York, Andy does not accept cases from those in New York state. He does, however, know many lawyers in New York state and would be happy to make a referral.

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