WA Legal Roundup: Division II
Hough v. Stockbridge The tort of abuse of process can become costly in many ways. After suing the Stockbridges for defamation, and proceeding through arbitration, one trial without a jury, an appeal, another trial with a jury, and finally this appeal, Mr. Hough ends up defeated in court, significantly poorer, and publicly embarrassed.
The legal issues in Hough are largely uncontroversial. Hough argued several trial issues reviewed for abuse of discretion, and the court resolved all against him. The most significant of the issues were whether the court gave the proper jury instructions regarding the tort of abuse of process, and whether substantial evidence supported the jury’s verdict. The court held that no mention of "form of extortion” need be included in the jury instructions to accurately state the elements of abuse of process. Moreover, the court held that Hough’s 49 separate motions and discovery requests, many of which “not filed pursuant to any established court rule or procedure,” constituted substantial evidence satisfying the jury verdict.
As a result of this appeal, Hough ends up liable for $241,344.50 plus an additional amount for attorney fees on this appeal. Also, what would injury be without a little insult? Because the opinion was published, this nugget now appears in the public domain:
Has Mr. Hough been evaluated by a mental health professional? There is little doubt that this man is delusional & would be diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Does the court have the authority to order such an evaluation?
That quote came from an unidentified juror in the trial preceding this appeal. It brings to mine a certain hero of mine.