August 06, 2014 5:00am PT by Jonathan Handel
Why Garth Ancier's Suit Against Sex Abuse Accuser Will Be Hard to Win
This story first appeared in the Aug. 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Sex abuse accuser Michael Egan and his lawyer Jeff Herman rode into town like cowboys with guns blazing, but they appear to be leaving it hats in hand. The lawsuits filed in April claiming X-Men director Bryan Singer and three others abused Egan as a teen have collapsed and have been or are being withdrawn amid credibility issues, and Herman is withdrawing as Egan’s counsel. Both are now defendants in a malicious prosecution suit filed by one of those defendants, TV exec Garth Ancier. That case took an unusual turn when Egan, 31, who had allegedly been evading process servers for weeks, finally was served July 31 in the men’s room of what Ancier said was "an obscure Las Vegas casino."
Ancier wrote on Facebook that he’s hoping for a court judgment to restore his reputation, but malicious prosecution actions are tough to win. They require 1) that the prior case ended in the plaintiff’s favor, 2) that the case was filed without probable cause, and 3) that the case was initiated "with malice." Egan’s lawsuit was withdrawn "without prejudice," leaving open the possibility that he could refile. Is that kind of termination in Ancier’s favor? A Hawaii appeals court said it depends on the circumstances.
In addition, to show a lack of probable cause as to Herman, Ancier probably would have to convince a court that Herman should have taken heed of statements Egan made in a prior suit about never having been to Hawaii, where he now claims abuse allegedly occurred. Finally, malice: did Egan and Herman file the case with a proper purpose -- or was Herman just trolling for clients?