Under Code of Civil Procedure section 391(b) a vexatious litigant is a person who does any of the following:
- In the immediately preceding seven-year period has commenced, prosecuted, or maintained at least five litigations other than in a small claims court that have been (i) finally determined adversely to the person or (ii) unjustifiably permitted to remain pending at least two years without having been brought to trial or hearing.
- After a litigation has been finally determined against the person, repeatedly relitigates or attempts to relitigate, either (i) the validity of the determination against the same defendant or defendants as to whom the litigation was finally determined or (ii) the cause of action, claim, controversy, or any of the issues of fact or law, determined or concluded by the final determination against the same defendant or defendants as to whom the litigation was finally determined.
- In any litigation while acting in propria persona, repeatedly files unmeritorious motions, pleadings, or other papers, conducts unnecessary discovery, or engages in other tactics that are frivolous or solely intended to cause unnecessary delay.
- Has previously been declared to be a vexatious litigant by any state or federal court of record in any action or proceeding based upon the same or substantially similar facts, transaction, or occurrence.
- After being restrained pursuant to a restraining order issued after a hearing pursuant to Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 6300) of Part 4 of Division 10 of the Family Code, and while the restraining order is still in place, they commenced, prosecuted, or maintained one or more litigations against a person protected by the restraining order in this or any other court or jurisdiction that are determined to be meritless and caused the person protected by the order to be harassed or intimidated.
What are the consequences of being a Vexatious litigant?
Once a party has been declared a vexatious litigant, the court on its own motion or that of any party may enter a “prefiling” order prohibiting that party from filing new state court litigation in propria persona absent leave of the presiding judge shall permit the party to file further litigation is proposed to be filed. (Code of Civ, Proc., § 391.7(a); In re R.H (2009) 170 Cal.App.4th 678, 690.) After a prefiling order issues, the presiding judge shall permit the party to file further litigation “only if it appears the litigation has merit and has not been filed for the purposes of harassment or delay.” (Code of Civ. Proc., §391.7(b); People v. Harrison (2001) 92 Cal.App.4th 780. 785-786.) Thus, a person who is declared a vexatious litigant does not lose the right of access to the Court. (Bravo v. Ismaj (2002) 99 Cal.App.4th 211, 220-221.)
Why does the Court do this?
The Vexatious litigant statutes “are designed to curb misuse of the court system by those persistent and obsessive litigants who, repeatedly litigat[e] the same issues through groundless actions, waste the time and resources of the court system and other litigants.” (In re Marriage of Rifkin and Carty (2015) 234 Cal.App.4th 1339, 1345.) The vexatious provisions seek “to protect the court system by those persistent and obsessive litigants while at the same time providing a workable means by which a vexatious litigant may proceed with litigation.” (Id. at p. 696)
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*The information provided above is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and should not be interpreted as legal advice.