September 23, 2016
In an opinion issued yesterday, the Kentucky Supreme Court adopted a revised standard for malicious prosecution actions. Martin v. O'Daniel, 2014-SC-373. As the Court explained, the previous standard - as set out in Raine v. Drasin, 621 S.W.2d 895 (Ky. 1981) - was ambiguous and confusing. The new standard requires a malicious prosecution plaintiff to prove that:
(1) the defendant initiated, continued, or procured a criminal or civil judicial proceeding, or an administrative disciplinary proceeding against the plaintiff;
(2) the defendant acted without probable cause;
(3) the defendant acted with malice, which, in the criminal context, means seeking to achieve a purpose other than bringing an offender to justice; and in the civil context, means seeking to achieve a purpose other than the proper adjudication of the claim upon which the underlying proceeding was based;
(4) the proceeding, except in ex parte civil actions, terminated in favor of the person against whom it was brought; and
(5) the plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the proceeding.
The Court also held that police officers are not entitled to qualified official immunity from malicious prosecution actions, noting that official immunity is not available to public officers who acted with malice.