• Dennis McCaslin

Hey, Karen...you might want to think twice about filing that frivolous lawsuit just because you can

We have all heard the phrase "frivolous lawsuits".

Thousands of lawsuits are filed each yeah with no basis in merit or having any legal chance to realize any positive financial outcome to the suing party.

The overcrowded court system, not just in Arkansas but across the nation, has enough to deal with trying to convict actual criminals and settle legitimate claims without the extra burden. Yet any person with a complaint or a gripe. and $160 for a filing fee, can make claims against anyone else regardless of the merit of those claims, tying up valuable judicial assets.

Example: In 1993, Richard Overton sued Anheuser-Busch for false advertising after he drank a 6-pack of Bud Light and the beer failed to produce visions of beautiful women on a sandy beach (as the advertisement he had seen seemed to suggest). He sought $10,000 in damages, claiming that Bud Light’s deceptive marketing caused him emotional distress.

The trial court threw out the frivolous lawsuit and the decision was upheld by the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Cleary, that was a ploy for financial gain, which is the end all and be all of most of these kinds of cases.

The vast majority of these cases are filed and go nowhere because the plaintiff doesn't think the situation through before following through,

Many are dismissed without any action taken against the defendant. In Arkansas, the time between when a dormant case was filed and it is dismissed by the presiding judge varies and is at the individual judges discretion. Some judges clear their docket after a month, while others may never dismiss their frivolous cases.

Sadly, frivolous lawsuits are sometimes filed by plaintiffs who are suffering from a mental illness.

But in most cases, frivolous lawsuits are filed for purposes of

harassing the defendant. Being sued is incredibly frustrating. Even if the case is meritless, the defendant has to expend time, energy, and financial resources to have the case dismissed. What’s more, the defendant’s reputation might be tarnished if people hear about the lawsuit and assume it’s legitimate. For these reasons, frivolous lawsuits are often used by plaintiffs as a way to harass and bully defendants.

Sometimes lawsuits are filed for no other reason than to generate buzz and garner media attention. Generally, these lawsuits are filed by advocacy groups or fringe organizations who wish to bring attention to an issue.

Most courts are overwhelmed by legitimate lawsuits. For this reason, judges find it particularly frustrating when a frivolous lawsuit is filed. Fortunately, judges have the authority to sanction lawyers and fine plaintiffs who file frivolous lawsuits.

What’s more, a defendant in a frivolous lawsuits can turn around and sue the plaintiff for malicious prosecution. A claim for malicious prosecution is a tort action, and damages include the costs of having to defend against the baseless lawsuit.

In additional the types of cases can be costly to he plaintiff if malicious prosecution is proven. There have been awards as high as $3 million given to defendants who were found to be falsely accused and injured by frivolous lawsuit.

The best legal device? Think long and hard about who you throw out a nonsensical legal action because it could cost you more than that $160 filing fee.

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