Is it Legal to File a Frivolous Lawsuit?

Many of you may have heard the term “frivolous lawsuit.” A frivolous lawsuit is defined in the United States as initiating or continuing a lawsuit that has no legal merit or factual basis and thus, there is little chance of the Plaintiff succeeding in court. Typically, these lawsuits are for the purpose of harassment, embarrassment, annoyance, or intimidation of the target of the litigation (i.e., the defendant). For a lawsuit to be frivolous, the person or persons who file the claim know that the case has no basis in law. 

In America, frivolous lawsuits are easy to file in court because everyone has the right to sue another. Frivolous litigation, or the practice of filing frivolous lawsuits over and over again, is frowned upon by the U.S. legal system and can result in serious consequences for the plaintiff and the attorney representing him or her.

Common Characteristics of Frivolous Lawsuits

While lawsuits are often as unique as the parties involved, there are some underlying characteristics that all frivolous lawsuits share in common. These include:

  • They are messy: The attorney filing a frivolous lawsuit generally provides complicated arguments or submits lots of paperwork to intimidate the other side into trying to resolve the matter quickly. 
  • A serial plaintiff or attorney: Generally, the plaintiff–or the attorney–has a history of filing more than one frivolous lawsuit and they are likely the same type of case;
  • They have no basis under the law: The most obvious aspect of a frivolous lawsuit is that there is little to no logic or fact behind the claim; and
  • Unreasonable demands: Often times the plaintiff will make unreasonable demands, such as requesting a large sum of money in exchange for dropping the case;

Generally, when it comes to frivolous lawsuits, the plaintiff had no actual intention of ever taking the case to trial.

Consequences of Frivolous Lawsuits

While filing a frivolous lawsuit may not be illegal per se, they can have serious consequences. This includes costing thousands of dollars in attorneys’ fees, court costs and expenses, as well as added stress. Some issues include:

  • Financial loss and wasted time for the defendant;
  • Emotional and psychological distress for the defendant;
  • Issuance of a contempt order for the frivolous litigant; and
  • Possible criminal charges for the frivolous litigant if significant harm was cased.

So, why are frivolous lawsuits filed if there is so much at stake? Well, sometimes a lawsuit may be filed in good faith even if it is frivolous. This is because the definition of “good faith” is a subjective one. For this reason, Rule 11 of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the one that can result in sanctions against an attorney and his or her client, requires that a lawyer perform a due diligence investigation regarding the factual basis of any claim.

Thankfully, America’s courts have a system to detect frivolous claims early on so that these types of lawsuits are typically thrown out of the judicial system. 

Contact an Attorney Today

Simply put, it is not advisable to file frivolous lawsuits even if it is not technically illegal to do so. If you have been hurt in an accident in Nevada due to the fault of another, contact the Las Vegas personal injury attorneys at Matt Pfau Law Group today. We can investigate the merits of your situation and advise as to whether or not you have a case under applicable law.

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