Skip to main content

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

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?

+ Read More

Attorney answers 3

Best Answer

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 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, California 94526-0008 Legal disclaimer: I do not practice law in any state but California. As such, any responses to posted inquiries, such as the one above, are limited to a general understanding of law in California and not to any other jurisdiction. In addition, no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to constitute legal advice, nor to constitute the existence of an attorney/client or other contractual or fiduciary relationship, inasmuch as legal advice can only be provided in circumstances in which the attorney is able to ask questions of the person seeking legal advice and to thus gather appropriate information.


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.


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 your lawyer, and neither do follow-up comments and/or emails and/or phone calls --- we need an actual agreement confirmed in writing before any attorney-client relationship is formed. Please don't expect me to respond to your follow-up queries. This answer doesn't constitute legal advice, and shouldn't be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue.

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer