Frivolous Litigation - The use of unmerited legal proceedings to hurt, harass or gain an economic advantage over an individual or organization.
A Summons to Suffering
Some Personality-Disordered individuals will use the legal system as a proxy to continue their abuse, harassment or conflict with someone through groundless lawsuits, meritless proceedings and spurious legal action. The motivations for the litigant can include withholding of rightful support, or causing mental, emotional and financial suffering for the attacked family member or partner.
Of course, not all litigation is frivolous. Some, such as court action to protect a child or prosecute a crime, is completely just and proper. However when legal arguments are not supported by the applicable laws, or are based on false testimony, or have been commenced simply to cause distress, harm or fear to the other party, the litigation is effectively a form of abuse attempted via the legal system.
Frivolous Litigation is a form of Proxy Recruitment, which basically means the person is using the court system to “do their dirty work."
Some people with Personality Disorders are drawn towards conflict and will use litigation as a tool to sustain conflict or support a need to feel powerful. Sometimes, just the threat of a lawsuit is enough to control a person and make them “fall into line’”. Many people and organizations will surrender significant resources or positions to a litigious bully just to avoid the legal fees, inconvenience and risk of a legal proceeding.
What it Looks Like
A parent files a false police report, claiming that their teenager is using violent, aggressive or dangerous behavior.
A woman files a restraining order against her ex-boyfriend making false accusations about acts of violence.
A man takes his ex-wife to court with dubious arguments that he should not be required to pay child support.
An employee or client fakes or exaggerates an injury and attempts to extort financial remuneration from an organization.
How it Feels
If you are on the receiving end of legal proceedings instigated by a person with a Personality Disorder, your primary emotions are probably anxiety or fear. You are probably already familiar with the kinds of accusations that may be leveled against you, and your primary concern is likely to be “what if the judge believes it?”
What NOT to do
- Don’t engage a litigious person directly or in person. Don’t react or retaliate. You may be giving them the conflict they want.
- Don’t believe everything a person with a personality disorder claims about the strength of their case. It is quite common for them to lie, exaggerate or embellish.
- Don’t assume that a judge will believe everything they are told by a litigious person.
- Don’t be pressured into giving up or agreeing to something that is important without getting legal advice first.
- Don’t get your legal advice from well-intentioned friends and family who are untrained in the law.
What TO do:
- Get sound legal advice from a reputable attorney. Most people think nothing of spending $200-$300 to fix their car but many avoid spending as much to get the peace of mind that comes from knowing what the law actually says about their situation.
- “Document, document, document” - gather and keep documentation, including diary entries with specific dates and incidents, which support the truth and may be used as reminders of evidence if and when you need it.
- Keep all communications with a litigious person to an absolute minimum, and if you must communicate, make it impersonal, professional and written only. Send via an attorney if possible.
Keep the following points in mind:
- In any legal proceeding, an accusation is not the same thing as evidence. Testimony from a plaintiff and a defendant is important in framing the conflict for the judge - but usually provides little more than “he said/she said” evidence which is not objective.
- Evidence from third party witnesses is viewed as more objective in most courts, especially if it comes from trained professionals who do not have a stake in the case such as police, doctors, social workers, school teachers etc.
- Documentary evidence carries the most weight. Signed statements, financial records, contracts, letters, affidavits, etc. are all very helpful in establishing credibility