Skip to main content
Select Source:

Vexatious Litigation

VEXATIOUS LITIGATION

A legal action or proceeding initiated maliciously and withoutprobable causeby an individual who is not acting ingood faithfor the purpose of annoying or embarrassing an opponent.

The U.S. legal system permits persons to file civil lawsuits to seek redress for injuries committed by a defendant. However, a legal action that is not likely to lead to any practical result is classified as vexatious litigation. Such litigation is regarded as frivolous and will result in the dismissal of the action by the court. A person who has been subjected to vexatious litigation may sue the plaintiff for malicious prosecution, seeking damages for any costs and injuries associated with the original lawsuit.

Litigation is typically classified as vexatious when an attorney or a pro se litigant (a person representing himself without an attorney) repeatedly files groundless lawsuits and repeatedly loses. Under the common law, the frequent incitement of lawsuits by an attorney constituted the crime of barratry. In modern law, however, barratry is viewed as an archaic crime and is rarely enforced. Attorneys who encourage vexatious litigation are subject to discipline for violating rules of professional conduct and may be suspended from the practice of law or disbarred.

Sometimes pro se litigants who have lost their initial lawsuits file new actions based on the dispute contained in the original suit. Because the judgment of the original case is dispositive, a court will ultimately dismiss these new actions. To avoid the expenditure of court resources, as well as the costs associated with the defendant's defense of repeated frivolous claims, a court may issue an order forbidding the pro se litigant to file any new actions without permission of the court.

Vexatious litigation is a type of malicious prosecution that enables the defendant to file a tort action against the plaintiff. A plaintiff in a malicious prosecution must prove that a legal proceeding (or multiple proceedings) was instituted by the defendant, that the original proceeding was terminated in favor of the plaintiff, that there was no probable cause for the original proceeding, and that malice, or a primary purpose other than that of bringing the original action, motivated the defendant. A plaintiff in such an action may recover, for example, the expenses incurred in defending the original suit or suits, as well as resulting financial loss or injury. A plaintiff may also recover damages for mental suffering of a kind that would normally be expected to follow from the original action.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Vexatious Litigation." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Vexatious Litigation." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 25, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/law/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/vexatious-litigation

"Vexatious Litigation." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Retrieved February 25, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/law/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/vexatious-litigation

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

vexatious

vex·a·tious / vekˈsāshəs/ • adj. causing or tending to cause annoyance, frustration, or worry: the vexatious questions posed by software copyrights. ∎  Law denoting an action or the bringer of an action that is brought without sufficient grounds for winning, purely to cause annoyance to the defendant. DERIVATIVES: vex·a·tious·ly adv.vex·a·tious·ness n.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"vexatious." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"vexatious." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 25, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/vexatious-0

"vexatious." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved February 25, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/vexatious-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

vexatious

vexatiousfactious, fractious •anxious • captious •precious, semi-precious •infectious •conscientious, contentious, licentious, pretentious, sententious, tendentious •Athanasius, audacious, bodacious, cactaceous, capacious, carbonaceous, contumacious, Cretaceous, curvaceous, disputatious, edacious, efficacious, fallacious, farinaceous, flirtatious, foliaceous, fugacious, gracious, hellacious, herbaceous, Ignatius, loquacious, mendacious, mordacious, ostentatious, perspicacious, pertinacious, pugnacious, rapacious, sagacious, salacious, saponaceous, sebaceous, sequacious, setaceous, spacious, tenacious, veracious, vexatious, vivacious, voracious •facetious, Lucretius, specious •adventitious, Aloysius, ambitious, auspicious, avaricious, capricious, conspicuous, delicious, expeditious, factitious, fictitious, flagitious, judicious, lubricious, malicious, Mauritius, meretricious, nutritious, officious, pernicious, propitious, repetitious, seditious, siliceous, superstitious, suppositious, surreptitious, suspicious, vicious •noxious, obnoxious •conscious, subconscious, unselfconscious •cautious, tortious •atrocious, ferocious, precocious •Confucius • luscious •bumptious, scrumptious •compunctious, rambunctious

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"vexatious." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"vexatious." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 25, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/vexatious

"vexatious." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved February 25, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/vexatious

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.