Stark & D’Ambrosio LLP and two of its attorneys don’t have to face malicious prosecution claims connected to a failed breach-of-contract case after a California appeals court found that the suit was covered by the anti-SLAPP statute.
Gia Quiroga sued her former boyfriend, Alex Mrazek, alleging breach of contract based on an alleged promise to share an increase in real property value in exchange for household services and companionship. Mrazek prevailed in that suit, and filed malicious prosecution claims against Quiroga and, separately, against her attorneys, James A. D’Ambrosio, George Rios III, and Stark & D’Ambrosio.
The trial court ruled in favor of the defendants and dismissed the suit based on anti-SLAPP motions they filed. Anti-SLAPP laws are used to prevent people from using courts to intimidate others for using their First Amendment rights.
The California Appeals Court for the Fourth District affirmed that ruling Thursday, finding that Mrazek didn’t show a probability of prevailing on any of his malicious prosecution claims. Mrazek failed to show that the attorney defendants and Quiroga prosecuted the breach claim without probable cause, Associate Justice Cynthia Aaron wrote for the court.
The negligence and unfair competition causes of action against the attorneys also failed because they were based on allegations that the lawyers didn’t properly investigate the underlying action and other suits they brought. Those claims were based on protected activity, according to the appeals court.
The appeals court remanded the case so the trial could award the defendants their appellate attorney fees.
Rios no longer practices with Stark & D’Ambrosio, according to his LinkedIn page.
The attorneys are represented by Paschall Law. Quiroga is represented by Garcia Hong Law. Mrazek is represented by Contreras Law Firm.
Associate Justices Joan Irion and William Dato joined in the decision.
The case is Mrazek v. Quiroga, Cal. Ct. App., No. D078447, 1/13/22.