A vexatious litigant is a person who has been identified as filing a lawsuit or lawsuits which are intended solely to harass the opposing party. This usually occurs either through the filing of a single frivolous lawsuit, or through repetitive filings of the same type of claim. Vexatious litigation is generally considered to be an abuse of process (i.e., a wrongful or wasteful use of the judicial court systems).
Vexatious lawsuits are particularly common in personal injury suits as well as ADA violations (i.e. targeting businesses and suing them for violations of disability accommodations laws). However, vexatious litigation can happen in any area of law.
What Are Some Examples of Vexatious Litigation?
Some examples of vexatious litigation can include:
- Filing a certain number of cases within a given time frame, especially where previous claims were already determined adversely for the litigant
- Conducting excessive or unnecessary discovery
- Filing claims that involve unmeritorious motions or pleadings (i.e., claims that have no legal basis)
- Filing claims that are solely intended to delay (for instance, a person who sues a bank solely for the purpose of delaying an imminent foreclosure hearing)
- Engaging in tactics that involve harassment
Every state has different laws regarding vexatious litigation and vexatious litigants. Vexatious litigation is sometimes included under abuse of process laws and statutes.
Are There any Consequences Associated with Vexatious Litigation?
In many instances, vexatious litigation can result in sanctions against the person or party filing the claim. This can involve fines or other similar consequences. Lawyers or law firms that engage in or accommodate vexatious litigation may be subject to sanctions from their state bar organization; they can also risk disbarment.
Another negative consequence is that the state or federal judicial systems may identify a person as a vexatious litigator and place them on a list. A person or party that has been placed on a list of vexatious litigators may be barred from pursuing further actions. Alternatively, they may require approval or permission from a judge before they can file another lawsuit.
Do I Need a Lawyer For Assistance With Vexatious Litigation issues?
Vexatious litigation is a serious matter and can result in strict legal consequences. Being placed on a vexatious litigator list can seriously hamper a person’s ability to obtain legal relief in the future. If you have any questions or concerns regarding a legal issue, you may need to hire a products liability attorney in your area for assistance. Your attorney can inform you of your rights under your state’s vexatious litigation laws. Also, your lawyer will be able to review your claim to ensure that the case has enough evidence and legal precedent to proceed.