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improper use of a legal process; for example, serving a summons to frighten the recipient or to prompt a response from him or her, where no suit has been filed, or filing a lawsuit for an improper purpose.
EXAMPLE: Nick desperately needs information from Sam to aid Nick in preparing for a lucrative business deal. Sam refuses to provide that information because of its confidential nature. Nick files a lawsuit against Sam so he can acquire the information by claiming that he needs it in connection with the lawsuit. Nick has thus participated in an abuse of process because he used service of summons, which is a legal process, to institute a lawsuit, for the sole purpose of acquiring information not otherwise lawfully available to him.
Source: Barron's Dictionary of Legal Terms, Steven H. Gifis, 5th Edition; ©
"Florida law provides that the deliberate use of a legal procedure, whether criminal or civil, for a purpose for which it was not designed constitutes a tort, abuse of process. See Bothmann v. Harrington, 458 So.2d 1163, 1169 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App. 1984) (an abuse of process action exists when there is "use of the process for an immediate purpose other than that for which it was designed")"
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