Tort Law

Ex-Software CEO Can Sue Lawyers


The California Supreme Court has cleared the way for malicious prosecution suit by the founder of a software company.

The decision allows Siebel Systems founder Thomas Siebel to sue two lawyers who represented a woman in a suit against Siebel and the company, the Recorder reports. Siebel Systems was later acquired by Oracle Corp.

Siebel contends the lawyers knew that their client’s sex discrimination allegation was baseless, but pursued the claim to force a settlement.

The court held that dismissal of the discrimination cause of action was a “favorable termination” for Thomas Siebel. The defendants are Carol Mittlesteadt, now a judge, and former San Francisco area lawyer E. Rick Buell II.

The employee’s claim that she was fired to avoid paying commissions and stock options went to trial. A jury found that the company owed commissions but that it did not commit fraud, and Siebel himself was not held liable. Those claims later settled.

The decision is Siebel v. Mittlesteadt, No. S125590 (PDF).

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