What Is a Motion to Declare Plaintiff a Vexatious Litigant?

General Definition

A motion to declare plaintiff a vexatious litigant is a party’s request that the court deem plaintiff as “[a] litigant who repeatedly files frivolous lawsuits. Many jurisdictions have statutes or local rules requiring a vexatious litigant to obtain the court's permission to file any further lawsuits or pleadings. The litigant may also be subject to sanctions.” (Vexatious Litigant, Black's Law Dictionary, 11th ed. 2019, available at Westlaw.)

Overview of State Court Authorities

California

"The vexatious litigant statute authorizes a 'defendant' to bring a motion to require a 'plaintiff' to furnish security. Defendant must prove that the plaintiff is a 'vexatious litigant' and that there is no reasonable probability that plaintiff will prevail in the litigation. ([Code Civ. Proc.,] § 391.1.) The statute contemplates a hearing to determine whether the plaintiff qualifies as 'vexatious' ([Code Civ. Proc.,] § 391.2) and instructs the court to require security if it finds plaintiff has no reasonable probability…”

Florida

Under Florida Statute § 68.093(2)(d)(1), a vexatious litigant is defined by the statute as a person who, in the immediately preceding 5-year period, has commenced, prosecuted, or maintained, pro se, five or more civil actions in any court in this state, except an action governed by the Florida Small Claims Rules, which actions have been finally and adversely…

New York

In determining whether the conduct undertaken was frivolous, the court shall consider the circumstances under which the conduct took place, including the time available for investigating the legal or factual basis of the conduct; and whether or not the conduct was continued when its lack of legal or factual basis was apparent, should have been apparent, or was brought to the attention of…

Texas

Under chapter 11, a trial court may place limitations on the litigation activities of a person determined by the court to be a “vexatious litigant.” (See Tex. Civ. Prac. Rem. Code Ann. § 11.001-.055.) The purpose of chapter eleven is to restrict frivolous and vexatious litigation. (See Devoll v. State (2004) 155 S.W.3d 498, 501 [statute “provides a framework for courts and attorneys to curb vexatious litigation.”) It does not authorize courts to act arbitrarily, but permits them to restrict a plaintiff's access to the courts only after first making specific findings that…

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