Sunday, November 2, 2014

Vexatious - the "broken cookie" and other claims


The word "vexatious" appeared somewhere in plaintiffs opposition to Toyota's "emergency" ex parte application to compel Barr.

So I looked up "vexatious," as I am curious about what it really means in a legal context. 
I happened upon the term "vexatious litigant." Wikipedia lists some famous (hideously) vexatious litigants.  Here are some samples from the list.

Notable vexatious litigants

  • Lawrence Bittaker, who together with his partner Roy Norris was convicted of torturing and murdering five young women in 1979, has filed 40 separate frivolous lawsuits against the state of California, including one claiming "cruel and unusual punishment" after being served a broken cookie. In 1993, he was declared a vexatious litigant and is forbidden from filing lawsuits without the permission of a lawyer or a judge.[60]
  • Alexander Chaffers, a solicitor whose actions led to the first British law against vexatious litigation, the Vexatious Actions Act, 1896. Chaffers became notorious after accusing the wife of Travers Twiss of being a prostitute. He subsequently issued 48 proceedings against leading members of Victorian society in the 1890s. Costs awarded against Chaffers were never paid. After the act was passed he became the first person to be declared a habitually vexatious litigant and barred from future litigation without judicial permission.[61]
  • David Eastman[62] convicted of the murder of Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Colin Winchester whom he shot twice in the head at point blank range in the driveway of Winchester's home in Deakin, ACT. He was found guilty and was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for the murder. Eastman was tried in 1995, a process lasting 85 days. During the trial, Eastman repeatedly sacked his attorneys and eventually chose to represent himself. Eastman also abused the judge during his trial, and during later legal proceedings and appeals. Subsequent to his conviction, Eastman continuously appealed against his conviction, attempting to win a retrial on the basis that he was mentally unfit during his original trial. 
  • Valery Fabrikant, a former Concordia University professor serving a life sentence for the murders of four colleagues in 1992.[63]
  • Julian Knight, convicted of the Hoddle Street massacre in Melbourne, Australia. Numerous actions, primarily seeking injunctions against the prison incarcerating him, cost the Victoria government over A$250,000 directly, plus some A$128,000 in outside legal costs.[64]
  • David James "Indian Chief" Lindsey, a Melbourne man so declared after repeatedly suing doctors, insurance firms and companies such as Carlton & United Breweries for smoking-related damages. On February 21, 2006, the Supreme Court of Appeal gave him leave to sue Philip Morris, demonstrating that a vexatious litigant is not completely blocked from launching further court action.[28]
  • Richard Mack, after whom the Mack Bar is named, an order barring a litigant from making substantially any non-criminal filings within the court's jurisdiction. In the course of his litigation, Mack made numerous frivolous petitions and motions, resulting in monetary sanctions. Mack initially failed to pay the sanctions. At one point, Mack set up his own corporation having the same name as the defendant against whom he was litigating, made payments to that corporation, and then represented to the court that he had complied with the duty to pay. After the sanctions escalated from $100 to $5500 and remained unpaid, the Court of Appeals issued an order, now referred to as a Mack Bar, preventing any further filings from being accepted by the court.[65]
  • Roy L. Pearson, Jr., who filed a civil case demanding US$67 million in 2005, following a dispute with a dry cleaning company over a lost pair of trousers, which later become known as the "pants lawsuit".[69] 
  • Jonathan Lee Riches former prisoner who filed over 2,600 lawsuits over the course of six years.[73]
  • The Church of Scientology. "Plaintiffs (Scientologists) have abused the federal court system by using it, inter alia, to destroy their opponents, rather than to resolve an actual dispute over trademark law or any other legal matter. This constitutes 'extraordinary, malicious, wanton and oppressive conduct.' As such, this case qualifies as an 'exceptional case' and fees should be awarded pursuant to the Lanham Act... It is abundantly clear that plaintiffs sought to harass the individual defendants and destroy the church defendants through massive over-litigation and other highly questionable litigation tactics. The Special Master has never seen a more glaring example of bad faith litigation than this." (s:Religious Technology Center v. Scott (1996), U. S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 85-711-JMI (Bx) 85-7197-JMI (Bx), January 20, 1993, Memorandum of Decision).[74][75]