How do I get a civil lawsuit's file expunged?

Asked about 3 years ago - San Diego, CA

I sued for defamation and ended up dismissing the case because it looked like I might lose, and besides, I couldn't handle all the stress. However, the file is public record, and it contains very personal information that I don't want leaked. (If the defendant starts copying and passing out these records, I've only made a bad situation even worse.) How do I get the file destroyed?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Eliz C A Johnson

    Contributor Level 17

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    Answered . You cannot. They won't destroy the file because it may be embarrassing or because you might lose. Yes, it is a public record but that was understood when you filed your action. As to Defendant's copying records and passing them out, there may or may not be a slander or libel suit for invasion of privacy if no longer protected by the litigation privilege veil.


    Use the AVVO.com to find an attorney in your area. In addition to that, contact your local bar association for referral to an attorney who specializes in this. Often, but not always, the attorney will do an initial consultation free of charge. You will then be in a better position to determine what to do next. Best of luck to you!

    If you liked this answer, click on the thumbs up! Thanks. Eliz. C. A. Johnson Post Office Box 8 Danville,... more
  2. Pamela Koslyn

    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . Since you were the plaintiff and chose to file the case and make your personal information public, I doubt that you do anything to change that now.

    PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU COMMENT, EMAIL ME OR PHONE ME. I'm only licensed in CA. This answer doesn't make me... more
  3. Frank Wei-Hong Chen

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . The file won't be destroyed, but you might be successful in making a motion to seal the court file. Chances are, though, that unless there is a compelling reason, the court file will remain public record until the requisite number of years that the particular court keeps the files.

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