Frivolous lawsuit reform bill introduced

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Feb. 15, 2008 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

A newly introduced bill seeks to exclude frivolous claims within otherwise legitimate lawsuits. AB 1891 (Roger Niello, R-Sacramento) would allow a judge to award attorney’s fees to the opposing side for unjustified parts of a lawsuit. The bill would allow the award of attorney’s fees for an action or appeal filed only for the purpose of delay, or for obtaining settlement leverage.

"AB 1891 gives judges more precision in determining frivolous actions," Assemblyman Niello said. "The current all-or-nothing threshold does not allow a judge enough latitude to police unjustified or delaying tactics without throwing out the whole case. This bill provides such a tool."

The bill also better defines frivolous actions by changing the definition of "frivolous" from "solely" intended to cause delay to "substantially devoid of merit, within the context of the case." Such a change would give judges greater ability to rule a particular action or tactic as frivolous. Current law only allows sanctions if the entire lawsuit is without merit. AB 1891 gives a judge the authority to determine if, and when, the newly defined frivolous threshold is met. Finally, the bill would require judges to report attorneys who file frivolous actions to the State Bar.

AB 1891 will be eligible for hearing after March 9th and is likely to be heard first in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

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