Monday, June 4, 2012

Word of the Month for June 2012: Vexatious Litigant

Have you ever had that relative who is always tugging on your ear for advice but didn't want to ever come out and actually tell you what the problem was?  Or maybe you have a boy/girlfriend that is constantly complaining about something?  Or maybe you know two people who have been bickering about something for YEARS and YEARS but for the life of them they can't remember what it was the originally set them off but they can't see to stop with the constant arguing?  Yeah, I get this all the time here at the law library.  When these types of arguments spill into the court system, what often happens is that one party becomes what we in the legal business affectionately call a Vexatious Litigant.

What is a vexatious litigant?  According to Black's Law Dictionary, a vexatious litigant is a person who repeatedly files frivolous lawsuits. It may also be a person who continues to file losing legal actions against a particular party over and over again.

For example, say a person feels slighted against someone and they file a lawsuit.  No problem, yet.  Then, let's say, the lawsuit is dismissed or is kicked out of the courts over time because of some defect or something.  Then the person files another lawsuit against the same person - and that case gets kicked out.  Over and over and over the person files the same lawsuit against the same person.  These type of actions are very expensive for the person being sued so the courts have created this concept of vexatious litigant to deal with people who just don't get the hint.

Once a person is identified as a vexatious litigant, any subsequent actions must be accompanied by the court's permission to file the lawsuit or post a litigation (cost) bond (based on a percentage of the presumed damages).  This puts the burden of paying court costs squarely on the vexatious litigant's shoulders (meaning that if they lose the actions they bring in the future, the bond pays for all the costs of the other party).  The problem is that most people don't see themselves as a (or the) problem.  Most people think they can file lawsuit after lawsuit because it's their right!  Yeah, not the case at all and most times these types of lawsuits have virtually no merit to begin with and just clog up the court system.

So, bottom line, if you think you have a case against someone, take a step back and ask yourself if you REALLY have case against someone or it it's just a grudge.  If it's just a grudge, then I suggest you do as the pregnant ladies do and go drown your sorrows in a gallon of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.  Soon you'll forget about all your troubles and you'll have something else to complain about - like those bulging thighs and hips - resulting in a new round of litigation...Oh the humanity!  Will it never end?!?!