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Legal Memorandum: Elements of a Malicious Prosecution Claim

Issue: What are pleading requirements for the elements of a malicious prosecution claim?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Malicious prosecution claim; Legal elements; Facts alleged
Jurisdiction: Federal, Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: Restatement (Second) of Torts § 653
Date: 01/01/2009

Under Virgin Islands law a cause of action for malicious prosecution may be stated by alleging facts supporting the following four legal elements: (1) the defendant initiated or procured criminal proceedings; (2) defendant had no probable cause; (3) defendant’s purpose was something other than to bring plaintiff to justice; and (4) the proceedings were terminated in favor of the accused plaintiff.  See Restatement (Second) of Torts § 653; Deary v. Three Un-Named Police Officers, 746 F.2d 185, 194 n.11 (3d Cir 1984); Airlines Reporting Corp. v. Belfon, 351 F. Supp. 2d 326, 326-27 (D.V.I. 2004); Charleswell v. Bank of Nova Scotia, 44 V.I. 37 (Terr. Ct. 2001).

Thus, a plaintiff “need not plead law or match facts to every element of a legal theory.” Weston v. Pennsylvania, 251 F.3d 420, 429 (3rd Cir. 2001) (3d Cir. 2001).  Indeed, a plaintiff “need not allege all the facts necessary to prove its claim.”  Id. 

All that is required is that the facts alleged, including all reasonable inferences, show that the plaintiff may be entitled to relief under a viable theory.  See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 562, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 1969 (2007).

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