Preiser v. MacQueen

Preiser v. MacQueen, 177 W. Va. 273, 352 S.E.2d 22 (1985) concerned a dispute between a newspaper and an attorney who had filed several libel suits against the paper. The paper countersued, alleging malicious prosecution and abuse of process. The attorney asked the Court to prohibit the circuit judge from proceeding with the case on the basis that the statute of limitation had run on the paper's claims. The Court discussed at some length a claim for abuse of process, distinguishing it from an action for malicious prosecution. Relying upon an older Virginia case, the Court explained: "The distinctive nature of an action for abuse of process, as compared with the actions for malicious prosecution and false imprisonment, is that it lies for the improper use of a regularly issued process, not for maliciously causing process to issue, or for an unlawful detention of the person. . . . The authorities are practically unanimous in holding that to maintain the action for abuse of process there must be proof of a willful and intentional abuse or misuse of the process for the accomplishment of some wrongful object--an intentional and willful perversion of it to the unlawful injury of another." (Id. 177 W. Va. at 279, 352 S.E.2d at 28.)