Arizona courts have recognized claims for abuse of process against parties, and sometimes their attorneys, stemming from the use of judicial processes for an improper purpose. Although a claim for abuse of process seems simple the cases reveal that courts are understandably very hesitant to support liability for abuse of process because doing so could prevent parties from prosecuting or defending lawsuits in a reasonable yet zealous manner.
The elements of abuse of process include the presence of a willful act in the use of judicial process for an ulterior purpose not proper in the regular conduct of the proceedings. The "judicial process" at issue is broadly construed and may include the initial pleadings, discovery and deposition practice, and the use of various motions.
Although many states do not support the bringing of an action for abuse of process against an opposing party in a prior action, at least one Arizona court has stated that such a claim may be viable under Arizona law.
If you believe you have a claim for abuse of process or you are facing an abuse of process claim filed by another party you should immediately seek the assistance of an Arizona attorney. Although there is not a separate statute of limitations addressing the time limitation for bringing an abuse of process claim, at least one Arizona court has suggested that the statute of limitations for bringing an abuse of process claim in Arizona is two years.