Dispatches from the Creation Wars

California Shuts Down Vexatious Litigant

And no, it wasn’t one of the two Larrys, Fafarman or Caldwell. A vexatious litigant is someone who files endless frivolous lawsuits against anyone and everyone. Courts are very reluctant to prevent a person from filing lawsuits, but in rare cases when someone has clearly abused that right, it can be done. California just did it to a guy who had filed over 400 lawsuits and the SCOTUS let their ruling stand.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear the case of Molski vs. Evergreen Dynasty Corp., owner of a Chinese restaurant in Solvang, Calif., in a legal Waterloo for the 38-year-old Woodland Hills man. Molski filed more than 400 suits under the Americans With Disabilities Act before a federal judge barred him from future litigation.


Details:

In a highly unusual action in 2004, U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie, who has since died, branded Molski a “hit-and-run plaintiff,” accusing him of systematic extortion of businesses across California.

Molski, who has used a wheelchair since a motorcycle accident two decades ago, sued restaurants, bowling alleys, wineries and other retail outlets for insufficient handicapped parking, misplaced handrails and other violations of the disabilities act, demanding that business owners be fined $4,000 for every day their facilities failed to meet exacting federal standards.

Fear of adverse judgments compelled many to settle out of court, earning the Polish-born plaintiff hundreds of thousands of dollars in less than two years.

I don’t know enough about these cases to know how justified the decision is, though I am inclined to think it’s legitimate. Courts are very reluctant to declare someone a vexatious litigant unless the evidence is extremely clear that they are abusing the courts for frivolous reasons or for personal gain. If 70% of the judges on the 9th circuit agreed that he was doing so, I’d give them the benefit of the doubt.