Actions for damages that are false, unfounded, malicious, without probable cause, or part of conspiracy — Action, claim, or counterclaim by judicial officer, prosecuting authority, or law enforcement officer for malicious prosecution — Damages and costs — Attorneys' fees — Definitions.
(1) In any action for damages, whether based on tort or contract or otherwise, a claim or counterclaim for damages may be litigated in the principal action for malicious prosecution on the ground that the action was instituted with knowledge that the same was false, and unfounded, malicious and without probable cause in the filing of such action, or that the same was filed as a part of a conspiracy to misuse judicial process by filing an action known to be false and unfounded.
(2) In any action, claim, or counterclaim brought by a judicial officer, prosecuting authority, or law enforcement officer for malicious prosecution arising out of the performance or purported performance of the public duty of such officer, an arrest or seizure of property need not be an element of the claim, nor do special damages need to be proved. A judicial officer, prosecuting authority, or law enforcement officer prevailing in such an action may be allowed an amount up to one thousand dollars as liquidated damages, together with a reasonable attorneys' fee, and other costs of suit. A government entity which has provided legal services to the prevailing judicial officer, prosecuting authority, or law enforcement officer has reimbursement rights to any award for reasonable attorneys' fees and other costs, but shall have no such rights to any liquidated damages allowed.
(3) No action may be brought against an attorney under this section solely because of that attorney's representation of a party in a lawsuit.
(4) As used in this section:
(a) "Judicial officer" means a justice, judge, magistrate, or other judicial officer of the state or a city, town, or county.
(b) "Prosecuting authority" means any officer or employee of the state or a city, town, or county who is authorized by law to initiate a criminal or civil proceeding on behalf of the public.
(c) "Law enforcement officer" means a member of the state patrol, a sheriff or deputy sheriff, or a member of the police force of a city, town, university, state college, or port district, or a fish and wildlife officer or ex officio fish and wildlife officer as defined in RCW 77.08.010.
[2001 c 253 § 1; 1997 c 206 § 1; 1984 c 133 § 2; 1977 ex.s. c 158 § 1.]
| Legislative findings -- 1984 c 133: "The legislature finds that a growing number of unfounded lawsuits, claims, and liens are filed against law enforcement officers, prosecuting authorities, and judges, and against their property, having the purpose and effect of deterring those officers in the exercise of their discretion and inhibiting the performance of their public duties.|
The legislature also finds that the cost of defending against such unfounded suits, claims and liens is severely burdensome to such officers, and also to the state and the various cities and counties of the state. The purpose of section 2 of this 1984 act is to provide a remedy to those public officers and to the public." [1984 c 133 § 1.]
Construction -- 1984 c 133: "The provisions of section 2 of this 1984 act are remedial and shall be liberally construed." [1984 c 133 § 3.]
Severability -- 1984 c 133: "If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected." [1984 c 133 § 4.]