August 2010 • Vol. 30 No. 7 | An E-Publication of the Los Angeles County Bar Association

Review in Franklin Mint v. Manatt Phelps Supported by LACBA Executive Committee

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, LACBA’s Executive Committee voted unanimously to authorize an amicus letter from LACBA supporting review of Franklin Mint v. Manatt Phelps by the California Supreme Court. LACBA affiliate Beverly Hills Bar Association later voted to join the amicus letter.

The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund lost a suit against the Franklin Mint for marketing collectibles without permission and fraudulently stating that proceeds would benefit Princess Diana’s charities. Franklin Mint sued Manatt Phelps for malicious prosecution, and although Manatt received a directed verdict in the trial court, the court of appeal reversed with one justice dissenting.

LACBA’s Amicus Briefs Committee, which recommended writing an amicus letter, expressed to the Executive Committee that malicious prosecution is a disfavored tort because every lawsuit could spawn one. Among reasons cited, the supreme court had previously held in Sheldon Appel v. Albert & Oliker that while truly frivolous legal theories have no place in our legal system, constraints must be placed on the tort of malicious prosecution in the interest of ensuring access to the courts and enabling zealous advocacy.

On July 21, the supreme court surprised many lawyers, including more than 20 amici curiae, by making an early decision to deny the Petition for Review. The court of appeal’s reversal of the directed verdict stands, and the case is remanded for trial. Franklin Mint will have another chance to prove either malice or damage by Manatt Phelps in the underlying case.

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