Friday, September 4, 2009

FRIVOLOUS LAWSUITS

When I take on a case, I make sure it is not frivolous. Webster's defines frivolous as "1 a : of little weight or importance b : having no sound basis (as in fact or law) (a frivolous lawsuit) 2 a : lacking in seriousness b : marked by unbecoming levity." There is a law barring litigants and their attorneys taking frivolus actions in a litigation: The Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York, 22 N.Y.C.R.R. §130-1.1, provides, in pertinent part:
"(a) The court, in its discretion, may award to any party or attorney in any civil action or proceeding before the court, except where prohibited by law, costs, in the form of reimbursement for actual expenses reasonably incurred and reasonable attorney's fees, resulting from frivolous conduct, as defined in this Part. In addition to or in lieu of awarding costs, the court, in its discretion may impose financial sanctions upon any party or attorney in a civil action or proceeding who engages in frivolous conduct as defined in this Part, which shall be payable as provided in section 130-13 of this Subpart. This Part shall not apply to town or village courts, to proceedings in a small claims part of any court, or to proceedings in the Family Court commenced under article 3, 7 or 8 of the Family Court Act.
(b) The court, as appropriate, may make such award of costs or impose such financial sanctions against either on attorney or a party to the litigation or against both. Where the award or sanction is against an attorney, it may be against the attorney personally or upon a Partnership, firm, corporation, government agency, prosecutor's office, legal aid society or public defender's office with which the attorney is associated and that has appeared as attorney of record. The award or sanctions may be imposed upon any attorney appearing in the action or upon a partnership, firm or
corporation with which the attorney is associated.
(c) For purposes of this Part, conduct is frivolous if:
(1) it is completely without merit in law and cannot be supported by a reasonable argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law;
(2) it is undertaken primarily to delay or prolong the resolution of the litigation, or to harass or maliciously injure another; or
(3) it asserts material factual statements that are false.
Frivolous conduct shall include the making of a frivolous motion for costs or sanctions under this section. In determining whether the conduct undertaken was frivolous, the court shall consider, among other issues 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 counsel or the party.
(d) An award of costs or the imposition of sanctions may be made either upon motion in compliance with CPLR 2214 or 2215 or upon the court's own initiative, after a reasonable opportunity to be heard. The form of the hearing shall depend upon the nature of the conduct and the circumstances of the case."

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