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6500 Cherrywood Ln - Greenbelt, MD 20770 - Main Tel: 301-344-8018 map
101 W Lombard St Room 8530 - Baltimore, MD 21201 - Main Tel: 410-962-2688

Plaintiff moved for summary judgment in adversary proceeding on grounds that collateral estoppel applied to render state court judgment for defamation and abuse of process nondischargeable as a debt for willful and malicious injury under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(6). Held, collateral estoppel rendered state court judgment for defamation nondischargeable because (1) issue of malice had been necessarily litigated in state court; plaintiff was a public official and therefore was constitutionally required to prove actual malice to obtain a judgment for defamation; (2) the issue of willfulness, defined as intent to cause injury, was necessarily litigated in state court because conduct was defamatory per se, creating a presumption of intent to cause injury, and state court trial transcript did not show rebuttal of presumption; (3) collateral estoppel rendered state court judgment for abuse of process nondischargeable because judgment was necessarily based on findings of willfulness and malice.

James F. Schneider