Brief Fact Summary. Sharon Graves (Plaintiff) brought suit against Texas Skaggs, Inc. (Defendant), her former employer, after they prosecuted her on two checks she had already paid.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. When a defendant determines to prosecute another individual, without probable cause, and that person can prove malice, an action for malicious prosecution may be upheld.
Issue. Whether a plaintiff has a viable cause of action based on malicious prosecution, when that plaintiff has written and acknowledged checks for which there were insufficient funds?
Held. Affirmed. In affirming the judgment of the lower court, the Texas Court of Civil Appeals looked at the elements for a cause of action for malicious prosecution:
* a criminal prosecution must be instituted by the defendant against the plaintiff. In this case, Defendant instituted prosecution on bad checks, against Plaintiff;
* the proceedings must be terminated in favor of the plaintiff. Defendant’s prosecution of Plaintiff was terminated, because she had paid the checks, and they could not produce them;
* there should be an absence of probable cause for the proceeding. Defendant did not have probable cause in prosecuting Plaintiff. She was well-known to the employees of the store, the checks she wrote were small, and she immediately made restitution for them;
* Malice. Defendant’s manager was determined to prosecute Plaintiff, regardless of the fact that she had made payment on the checks; and
* Damages. Plaintiff sustained damage to her reputation as she was arrested and paraded through the store as a thief, in front of friends and former coworkers.
There are no objective guidelines by which a court may measure the money equivalent of mental pain, and much discretion must be allowed to the jury in fixing this amount.View Full Point of Law