Appellants challenged a judgment from the Superior Court of Orange County (California) that granted respondents’ motion for judgment on the pleadings in appellants’ action for fraud, malicious prosecution, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Appellants asserted that trial court erred in holding that they could not collaterally attack a final judgment in prior litigation between the parties despite respondents’ perjury.
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The court affirmed a judgment that granted respondents’ motion for judgment on the pleadings in appellants’ action for fraud, malicious prosecution, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Appellants hired respondent real estate broker to sell their property. After the transaction failed, appellants were sued by respondents, real estate broker, agent, and purchasers for breach of contract. Following a final judgment in favor of respondents, appellants discovered that respondents had manufactured evidence and committed perjury at the trial. The court agreed that appellants could not collaterally attack that final judgment by way of an independent action when the judgment was the result of intrinsic, rather than extrinsic, fraud. The court stated that when appellants were given a chance to fully litigate the case and protect themselves against the fraud, there was no independent action for fraud. The court held that appellants could not proceed on malicious prosecution claim when they could not establish the element of favorable termination or on claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress when publications in judicial proceedings were absolutely privileged.
The court affirmed the judgment that granted respondents’ motion for judgment on the pleadings. The court held that appellants could not attack a final judgment through an independent action when the fraud was intrinsic and appellants had a chance to fully litigate their case. The court held that appellants had not established elements of malicious prosecution and that publications in judicial proceedings had an absolute privilege.