Appellant contractors challenged the summary judgment entered by the Superior Court of San Diego County (California) in favor of respondent customer, which dismissed appellant’s claim for malicious prosecution arising out of respondent’s previous lawsuit and settlement with appellants and the co-owner of their contracting business.

After respondent customer settled an action she had filed against appellant contractors and the co-owner of their contracting business, appellants initiated a suit for malicious prosecution against respondent, seeking legal fees and costs. The Employer defense affirmed the trial court’s decision to grant respondent’s motion for summary judgment. In order to succeed on a claim for malicious prosecution, appellants had to prove that the prior action was commenced by or at the direction of the defendant and was pursued to a legal termination in appellants’ favor, was brought without probable cause, and was initiated with malice. The prior settlement was not adjudication in appellants’ favor because it did not reflect the merits of the action and appellants’ innocence of any misconduct. This remained true despite the fact that the co-owner of appellants’ business provided the settlement funds and appellants gave consideration in the settlement by agreeing to waive fees and costs at that time.

The court affirmed the grant of summary judgment, holding that appellant contractors could not prove an essential element of their claim for malicious prosecution because the settlement of respondent customer’s previous lawsuit was not a final adjudication in appellants’ favor and appellants waived fees and costs in the settlement of the previous case.

A jury of the Superior Court of Ventura County, California, found defendant guilty of forgery from an elder adult, in violation of Pen. Code, ยง 368, subd. (d), based on passing checks with the forged signatures of his 83-year-old employer, drawn on an account held by the employer in his dba (doing business as) name. Defendant appealed.

The court of appeal held that the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction and rejected the argument that the actual victim was a business entity, rather than an elder adult. The law, be it civil or criminal, recognized no distinction between an individual and a name under which he or she did business. Defendant exploited a position of trust to loot a bank account that contained his 83-year-old employer’s life savings. The employer was no less a victim than if the money had been stolen directly from his pocket. Further, the evidence supported the jury’s finding that defendant either knew or should have known that the money he was stealing belonged to an elder adult as opposed to a business. The bank accounts defendant reviewed as part of his job duties plainly identified the holder of the account as the employer, with his dba name. Defendant knew that he was the employer’s sole employee, that the business was run out of the employer’s house, and that the checks he forged could not be cashed without the employer’s signature.

The court affirmed the judgment.