A recent Court of Appeals case affirmed a trial court’s ruling that a voluntary dismissal with prejudice does not constitute a “favorable termination” for the purpose of a malicious prosecution claim. In Fit2Race, Inc. v. Pope, No. M2015-00387-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 29, 2016), the underlying claim initially started during a contentious divorce proceeding. The court granting the divorce ruled in its final decree that the wife had been secretly working with other parties to steal business from and destroy the company started by the husband, and the court held that wife was “sanctioned and  forbidden to oppose [husband’s] claim that she subverted and destroyed [husband’s] business.”
After the divorce, husband seized upon the findings of the judge in the divorce and filed a federal complaint against wife, another business, and the owners of the other business alleging interference with business relations and civil conspiracy. Husband eventually voluntarily dismissed this case with prejudice.
Not contend to leave well enough alone, the other business and its two owners (the defendants in the federal court action) filed this malicious prosecution action against husband and husband’s attorney. The trial court granted summary judgment to husband and his attorney, finding that because the trial court in the initial divorce had found that wife and the parties at issue here had worked together to steal/destroy husband’s business, there was “more than ample cause for filing the subsequent federal complaint in the underlying action.” Further, the trial court held that “a voluntary notice of dismissal with prejudice does not constitute a favorable termination without any discussion of the merits of the claim.” The Court of Appeals affirmed the summary judgment.