Our modern judicial system allows for people who have been wronged to right these wrongs. Oftentimes, lawsuits are initiated due to serious issues such as traumatic brain injuries, property damages, insurance claims, and wrongful death of loved ones. However, amongst the slew of serious cases waiting in the courts to be resolved, there are a few like no one has ever seen before.
In 2017, a woman in California sued the Jelly bean company “Jelly Belly” alleging that the company misled her with the amount of sugar that was in a Jelly bean sold by the company because they listed “corn syrup” in the ingredients instead of “sugar.” While it might be common that some people may not know that corn syrup and sugar are the same thing, the judge in the case dismissed the lawsuit stating that all the women had to do was look at the nutrition label to clearly see the grams of sugar in the candies.
In 1994, a man sued a popular beer company over a claim of false advertising. In his complaint, the plaintiff stated that the beer company falsely advertised a specific lifestyle in relation to their product, one which included women and tropical oasis. The plaintiff asserted that he did not experience his “fantasies come to life” in the way that the beer company displayed. The court in this suit dismissed the case, stating that the advertising was not deceptive because it was unreasonable for the ordinary consumer to see these beer commercials and believe that they too would be transported to a tropical oasis, surrounded by women.
In every lawsuit there is a plaintiff and there is a defendant. In civil law, the plaintiff is the person who is initiating the lawsuit and the defendant is the person who is responding to the suit. Even though this suit about the sugar in jellybeans sounds ridiculous, these types of lawsuits are all too familiar. Lawsuits which are filed to harass or extort money from defendants, and have no legal basis are called “frivolous lawsuits.”
How to know if a lawsuit is frivolous
A lawsuit is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in law or fact. Worley v. Keller (4th Cir. 2012). Essentially, what this means is that the plaintiff does not have any laws or facts in which they are building their argument upon. Arguments such as not having your “fantasies come to life” are an example of arguments which are not based in law, as there is no law which makes it illegal for companies to bolster their product to make it seem attractive to consumers.
Arguments stating that the plaintiff was “misled” about the amount of sugar in a product are an example of an argument which is not based in fact, as there was no misinformation in this situation as the plaintiff could have simply checked the nutrition facts.
This means that in order for a lawsuit’s main claim to qualify as frivolous, the claim either:
- has baseless factual contentions or
- is based on indisputably meritless legal theory
Livingston v. Adirondack Beverage Co. (2d Cir. 1998).
For example, a claim where there would be an arguable basis of law or fact would be one in which a driver who was texting and driving hit another vehicle and caused someone in that vehicle a spinal cord injury. Here, there is an arguable basis of law or fact as the texting driver was negligent while he was operating a motor vehicle, therefore causing someone a traumatic physical injury. Real legal principles are then used to argue the case, with the intended goal of receiving the maximum amount of compensation for the injured driver.
What can you do if you have been served with a frivolous lawsuit?
Generally, in order to begin the adversarial judicial process, a plaintiff needs to first file a complaint. This first step in litigation is an essential one, as a complaint is a formal document which states all of the alleged injuries that the plaintiff has suffered as a result of the defendants’ actions. This document is a sort of “wish list” for where the plaintiff can name what they hope the outcome of the case will be.
After filing a complaint, the plaintiff will have to serve the defendant with the complaint. A judge will then decide whether or not the case has substantial merit and whether there is an actual issue at hand. At this stage, an experienced attorney would argue on your behalf that the suit is meritless and is in fact, frivolous.
If a judge decides that the case is indeed frivolous, the judge has the discretion to dismiss the case, and, in addition, order the other party which filed the frivolous case to pay reasonable expenses associated with the case such as attorney’s fees.
If you suspect that you have been served a lawsuit which has no legal basis, the best step to take is to hire an attorney, who has experience working with frivolous lawsuit cases. Attorneys can, in some instances, help you win these cases or get them dismissed for you.
Although there are instances where lawsuits appear ridiculous on their face, most of the time, it takes the experience of an attorney to read the complaint of a suit which has been filed in order to understand that a lawsuit is potentially frivolous. Frivolous lawsuits are harmful; often taking up precious time, money, and resources that could be better allocated in other areas. Being served with a lawsuit which you suspect may be frivolous deserves the immediate attention and review of an experienced attorney.
If you or someone you know is the victim of being served with a frivolous lawsuit, a free consultation with any of the attorneys at The Heidari Law Group can help you begin the process you need to undertake for compensation. With offices in Fresno, California, Sacramento, California, Los Angeles, California, Irvine, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada, the Heidari Law Group has qualified attorneys who are experts in recovering the maximum compensation that their clients deserve.
Regardless of whether you’ve been served with a frivolous lawsuit in California or Nevada, the Heidari Law Group is able to assist you at every step of your recovery process and ensure that you are equipped with all the tools that you need in order to receive fair and maximum compensation. Reach out to our offices and call for a free consultation today.
***Disclaimer: This blog is created by Heidari Law Group for educational purposes. This article provides a general understanding of the law. It does not provide specific advice. By using this site and reading through this blog, there is no attorney-client relationship created between you and any member of Heidari Law. Further, due the constant change of the law, some parts of the information above may no longer be good law.