Legal Question in Legal Ethics in California

If I File Bar Complaint Can I Be Sued For Libel?

I went into business with my

attorney. He didn't inform me that

this violated the law. He also didn't

inform me he suffered from

Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

I quit the company. He spent the

next three years destroying my life.

If I file a complaint with the bar can

he sue me for libel? Assume I'm

telling the truth. I'm not asking if I'd

win a lawsuit...I'm asking, can he file

a civil suit, even if it is groundless?

He belongs in a mental asylum. He

stalked my wife and I to China,

threatened to kill us, slandered us to

friends and investors, filed a frivolous

lawsuit claiming I defrauded him and

then presented Chinese taxi cab

receipts as his proof (it was truly,

truly insane). His reputation in the

legal community reflects my


I want to do something about a

dangerous (although not physically),

imbalanced NPD sufferer who has

destroyed many peoples lives. The

bar should know...but I don't want to

open myself up to another frivolous

charge from him.

Asked on 1/04/08, 10:04 pm

5 Answers from Attorneys

Joel Selik

Re: If I File Bar Complaint Can I Be Sued For Libel?

As you are probably aware, it is fairly simple to file a lawsuit--so, yes he can.

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Answered on 1/04/08, 10:07 pm

Robert F. Cohen Law Office of Robert F. Cohen

Re: If I File Bar Complaint Can I Be Sued For Libel?

Anyone can sue anyone for anything. Whether he'd win, or get beyond first base, is a different question. You might look at Civil Code section 47 and cases that interpret it, and then find a lawyer you retain to give you specific advice pertaining to your circumstances and perhaps help you straighten things out. Good luck. I'm sorry that you had such distasteful experiences (to say the least) with a member of our profession.

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Answered on 1/05/08, 3:37 am
Clayton Lee Russakow, Ryan & Johnson

Re: If I File Bar Complaint Can I Be Sued For Libel?

A couple years ago I did extensive research on the cases construing Civil Code Section 47 in the context of mendacious patients filing complaints with the Medical Board of California. My conclusions then were that liability exposure for malicious prosecution was next to nil. I imagine a bar complaint would be analogous. If you want to e-mail me, I would be happy to send you a copy of my research memorandum and an annotated copy of Section 47.

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Answered on 1/05/08, 2:00 pm
Clayton Lee Russakow, Ryan & Johnson

Re: If I File Bar Complaint Can I Be Sued For Libel?

More directly to answer your question, however, my research indicated that the Section 47 privilege is absolute, and that it applies to all torts (would include libel), except malicious prosecution. The exposure to malicious prosecution is still minimal in this context because a cause of action only accrues after the administrative proceeding has terminated favorably for the defendant/respondent (i.e. your attorney). Even then, the cause of action does not accrue where formal proceedings were initiated only after the public agency conducted an "independent investigation" of the claim or charges brought by the private party.

File the complaint. If he sues you over it, I'll defend you at a 25% discounted fee.

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Answered on 1/05/08, 2:21 pm
Robert L. Bennett Law offices of Robert L. Bennett

Re: If I File Bar Complaint Can I Be Sued For Libel?

You have a lot of excellent feedback to work with.

To reassert earlier answers, anyone can file a lawsuit about anything, against anyone.

However, truth is a defense to libel and/or slander.

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Answered on 1/05/08, 2:27 pm

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