Exploring Civil Case Proceedings

Exploring Civil Case Proceedings

How To Have Someone Declared A Vexatious Litigant In California

by Becky Freeman

After pursuing over 50 lawsuits in 10 years, a Sydney man was declared to be by a vexatious litigant who abused the legal system by an Australian Supreme Court justice. As part of his punishment, the man is now required to seek approval from the court prior to bringing legal action against anyone. This is, by no means, a unique situation. The courts in the US have also forbidden people from litigating cases because of abuse. If you're the victim of a vexatious or frivolous litigant, you can petition the court system to levy similar sanctions against the individual. Here's what it takes to have someone added to the vexatious litigant list in California.

Vexatious Litigation Defined

In America, anybody can sue anyone for anything, and this is one of many reasons why the courts are clogged with cases. For instance, a man sued a well-known beer company in 1991 for $10,000, claiming the company engaged in false advertising by insinuating through hyperbolic ads that its beer would help him hook up with beautiful women and have fun in exotic locales.

Although the courts are willing to allow everyone to have their day, no matter how frivolous the cases are, there are limits to this freedom. A person cannot file a lawsuit to harass, intimidate or embarrass another individual or company. A plaintiff also cannot bring repeated, non-meritorious cases before the court. Someone who does one or both of these things may face legal sanctions including being added to a short but distinguished list of vexatious litigants who must go through a screening process before they can initiate any more court cases.

Requirements for Blacklisting

Vexatious cases waste taxpayers' money, divert limited resources away from legitimate cases, and have devastating effects on victims' lives. For instance, businesses in Manteca, California, have been slapped with multiple lawsuits for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The suits were brought on behalf of clients by an attorney who has filed over 3,000 similar cases. Although California law does allow plaintiffs to sue for damages related to ADA infractions, the sheer volume of suits filed coupled with the relatively minor nature of the violations indicate there is some level of legal abuse is occurring in that situation.

As the victim of a vexatious litigant, however, you don't have to simply suffer through the person's legal shenanigans and hope they stop. You can have the court add the person to a blacklist that significantly limits the individual's ability to sue you or anyone else. To do this, you must present evidence to the court proving the person is a vexatious litigant. In California, one or more of the following must be true:

  • The person must have filed and lost a minimum of 5 claims within the preceding 7 years and not have won more than two cases in the same time period, and/or
  • The person continuously attempts to litigate the same case, even though a decision was rendered against him or her (appeals of the same case do not count), and/or
  • This plaintiff repeatedly files unmeritorious cases, submits papers containing information that is redundant and immaterial, uses measures to delay litigation or are considered frivolous and/or engages in unnecessary discovery, and/or
  • The person attempts to use laws or court procedures not recognized by the US court system

You can add the request to have the person declared a vexatious litigant in a countersuit or file a separate action. Additionally, the judge may independently sanction the plaintiff during the proceedings depending on the circumstances.

When a person is added to the state's list of vexatious litigants, he or she may be required to:

  • Obtain legal counsel (this is critical because many attorneys will refuse to represent vexatious litigants since lawyers can be disbarred for participating in such lawsuits)
  • Seek approval from the court prior to bringing legal action against another person or company
  • Provide a security deposit to guarantee payment of reasonable expenses incurred by the moving party

If the person is unable to fulfill any of these obligations, he or she will be prevented from filing a lawsuit. If, by some miracle, the individual does manage to make it court without having completed these requirements, you can move to have the case immediately dismissed on those grounds.

Litigating court cases is expensive and time consuming. If you find you're the victim of a vexatious litigant, it's a good idea to speak to a personal injury attorney who can help you take appropriate action to stop the abuse.

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About Me

Exploring Civil Case Proceedings

Hello and welcome, I'm Winfred Paulo. I have a passion for civil court cases of all kinds. Some time back, I ended up in the thick of a civil case after a lengthy dispute with my neighbor. The dispute went on for years and ended badly with an incident that landed us both in court. We had to prove our side of the case in an effort to obtain a positive outcome and recoup our losses. Unfortunately, I lost the case due to a lack of evidence. Since then, I've maintain a strong interest in civil cases and their proceedings. I will share information about civil cases on this site to help others understand these proceedings better. I may talk about legal terms, and expected outcomes for each case type. I hope you visit often to learn more. Thanks for stopping by my website.