CJAC: Civil Justice Association of California

Sep 21, 2012

Governor Signs Legislation to Further Restrict Vexatious Litigants

SACRAMENTO – Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 2274 today, legislation sponsored by the Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC) that will strengthen California's “vexatious litigant” statute. Current law allows judges to designate individuals as vexatious litigants when they have repeatedly filed meritless lawsuits. Plaintiffs designated as vexatious litigants must receive pre-approval from the courts for future filings and may be ordered to pay for a bond to cover the initial costs of the filing. However, the vexatious litigant designation cannot apply to plaintiffs who have hired an attorney and, prior to AB 2274, they only needed to retain an attorney at the outset of a case to avoid the restrictions, not throughout the entire case. AB 2274, authored by Assemblyman Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), will require vexatious litigants to obtain court approval for additional filings when they have fired their attorney before the case is over.

Kim Stone, president of CJAC, issued the following statement:

“Vexatious litigants have been able to get around the statutory restrictions because of this loophole that existed in the law. They will no longer be able to avoid the restrictions by hiring an attorney just for the initial filing.

“We certainly would like to see more done to crack down on these kinds of plaintiffs, such as allowing them to be deemed vexatious litigants regardless of whether they have an attorney, but AB 2274 is a positive step to help preserve the integrity of the current restrictions. We are grateful to Assemblyman Lara for carrying the bill and we were very pleased that the bill did not encounter any opposition. It is encouraging that the Legislature and the Governor saw the need for this reform.”

Prior to being signed into law by Governor Brown, AB 2274 received broad bipartisan support in the Legislature. The bill will go into effect January 1, 2013.

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