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Malfeasance

The commission of an act that is unequivocally illegal or completely wrongful.

Malfeasance is a comprehensive term used in both civil and CRIMINAL LAW to describe any act that is wrongful. It is not a distinct crime or TORT, but may be used generally to describe any act that is criminal or that is wrongful and gives rise to, or somehow contributes to, the injury of another person.

Malfeasance is an affirmative act that is illegal or wrongful. In tort law it is distinct from misfeasance, which is an act that is not illegal but is improperly performed. It is also distinct from NONFEASANCE, which is a failure to act that results in injury.

The distinctions between malfeasance, misfeasance, and nonfeasance have little effect on tort law. Whether a claim of injury is for one or the other, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed a duty of care, that the duty was breached in some way, and that the breach caused injury to the plaintiff.

The actions of Los Angeles residents who rioted and looted in the wake of the 1992 Rodney King trial verdict represented malfeasance, a breach of the duty of care.
AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTOS

One exception is that under the law of STRICT LIABILITY, the plaintiff need not show the absence of due care. The law of strict liability usually is applied to PRODUCT LIABILITY cases, where a manufacturer can be held liable for harm done by a product that was harmful when it was placed on the market. In such cases the plaintiff need not show any actual malfeasance on the part of the manufacturer. A mistake is enough to create liability because the law implies that for the sake of public safety, a manufacturer warrants a product's safety when it offers the product for sale.

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