Frivolous Litigation

Frivolous litigation is a broad term that can refer to any of a number of possible Rule 11 violations of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure:  It can mean “when parties to a case or their lawyers start or carry on law suits that have no chance of winning,” “an action…brought in bad faith for the purpose of harassing the defendant,” or a case that “did not argue for a reasonable extension or reinterpretation of the law or no underlying justification,” even though it appears unlikely to win on the surface.

In accordance with Utah Law, “[t]he court may decline to proceed on the petition if it believes the petition is frivolous, or the declaratory relief is unnecessary.”  A claim that will probably do no more than waste resources can be categorized as frivolous.

Example Sentence

Without some reasonable explanation of what makes Julia’s fall injury different from the sort of non-insurable clumsiness you see every day, her case could be dismissed as frivolous litigation.

Case Study

In Pennington v. Allstate Insurance, Lorin Pennington was involved in a car accident and then proceeded to go to several doctors, physical therapists, and chiropractors for the next two months building up a $4,000 bill. He argued that all of these visits were necessary despite multiple doctors informing him that he had no major health problems. His insurance company, Allstate, refused to pay the bills, so filed a lawsuit against them. The court decided that the expenses were unnecessary and the lawsuit was frivolous, so they ordered Pennington to pay Allstate’s attorney fees based on Rule 11 of Utah’s Rules of Civil Procedure.

Other Important Information

Not only is frivolous litigation an unwise idea; any knowing party to a frivolous lawsuit could be subject to legal penalties, including paying all of the attorney fees for the other side. This allows the court system to prevent lawsuits that will only waste their time and money (i.e. the taxpayers money), as well as those of the defendant. Utah’s Courts further discuss what merits a frivolous case.

Typically, the defendant needs to win the case against the plaintiff before seeking compensation for a frivolous case. Plaintiffs might file a frivolous lawsuit to scare the defendant into paying them compensation or to drive the defendant to spend large amounts of money defending themselves.

 

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