A frivolous lawsuit is any lawsuit that is filed with the intention of harassing, annoying, or disturbing the opposite party. It may also be defined as any lawsuit in which the plaintiff knows that there is little or no chance of the lawsuit succeeding if pursued in court.
Every year, many frivolous lawsuits are filed under personal injury laws, which may lead to a waste of time and money for courts and private individuals. The practice of filing frivolous lawsuits is also known as "frivolous litigation."
An example of a frivolous lawsuit is where a person files a false product liability claim against a company. This can cause a tremendous amount of waste for the company, as it will then have to conduct investigations into the claim and report their findings. Frivolous lawsuits are often filed for petty reasons, such as the person being unsatisfied with a product, or a person holding a personal grudge against another citizen.
Another reason why frivolous lawsuits may be filed is to delay another type of legal proceeding. For instance, some real estate actions cannot proceed if the person is involved in a lawsuit at the time. Thus, the person might file a frivolous lawsuit simply for the purpose of delaying the upcoming real estate proceeding.
Other common frivolous lawsuits include harassment lawsuits and false sexual harassment claims.
Filing a frivolous lawsuit is usually looked down upon by courts. In most cases, filing a frivolous lawsuit will lead to a civil fine of a certain amount of dollars (sometimes in the thousands). It may also lead to a contempt order. In serious cases or repeat filings, criminal consequences can result. If a court identifies a lawsuit as frivolous, they will usually dismiss the filing immediately without looking into the claims more or investigating evidence.
Abuse of the legal system is a serious matter and is not treated lightly. Thus, one should only file a lawsuit if they are certain that there claim has merit and is likely to succeed. Also, lawsuit should never be filed for personal reasons or to "get back" at a certain person or corporation.
Lawyers who engage in consistent frivolous litigation may also face fines, citations, or a suspension/revocation of their state bar license.
If you believe that someone has filed a frivolous lawsuit against you, you may need to hire a qualified personal injury lawyer for advice and representation. Your attorney will be able to identify whether a claim is frivolous, and can guide you on how to respond to such a claim. Also, your attorney can represent you in court if further legal action becomes necessary.