Court rejects jurisdiction over Florida resident's abuse of process
The Court of Appeals ruled that the Michigan "long-arm" statute did not grant Michigan Court's jurisdiction over a Defendant-Counter-Plaintiff's claim that the Plaintiff and another party conspired to commit an abuse of process. Defendant Zalcberg claimed that Plaintiff Yoost's lawsuit was financed by the Florida resident, that it was a frivolous claim pursued for a malicious purpose, that the Counter-Defendant financed and "controlled" the Michigan lawsuit, and that Plaintiff had never read the Complaint before filing it. Even though the parties admitted that the alleged wrong-doer was paying the legal expenses of Plaintiff's claim and the Plaintiff testified that he could not remember reading the Complaint, the Court held that the Counter-Plaintiff's evidence was not adequate to rebut the Counter-Defendant's affidavit claiming no improper involvement. Since the Court ruled that the Plaintiff had not supported a prima facie case of abuse of process, it concluded that the "long-arm statute" did not confer jurisdiction on the court to address "the doing or causing an act to be done...in the state..."
The Court went on to address the minimum requirements of an abuse of process claim, pointing out that merely filing a "groundless lawsuit" does not meet the minimum requirements of an abuse of process cause of action. Further, since the court in the underlying case had issued a protective order precluding abusive discovery practices by the Counter-Defendant, the Court ruled that the Counter-Plaintiff had not proven a use of process for an abusive purpose. The Court further held that documentation of payment of the lawsuit expenses, together with testimony--since repudiated--by the original Plaintiff that he had never read the Complaint, were not adequate to raise an issue of fact with regard to "control" and abuse of the underlying lawsuit.