In an action for abuse of process, an injured person could recover only the actual damage s/he suffered as a natural and probable consequence of abuse. Remote, indefinite, or speculative damages are not recoverable.[i] However special damages like physical or mental injury, expenses, loss of time and injury to business, property, or financial standing are recoverable.[ii] In Heck v. Humphrey,[iii] court held that one could not claim damages for an outstanding criminal conviction. Thus, in an action for abuse of process an injured person is entitled only to reasonable compensation for actual damages.
However, when an abuse of process is accompanied by malice, exemplary or punitive damages is awarded. Actual malice is necessary for an award of punitive damages. Punitive damages are an exception to the general rule of compensation for injury, and are awarded as punishment and to discourage the commission of similar acts. Courts allow punitive damages, when the conduct of the wrongdoer is wanton, reckless, or shows spite or ill will.
[i] Donohoe v. Burd, 722 F. Supp. 1507 (S.D. Ohio 1989)
[ii] Saliem v. Glovsky, 132 Me. 402 (Me. 1934)
[iii] 512 U.S. 477, 486 (U.S. 1994)