Fighting frivolous lawsuits

The SE Texas Record Mar. 7, 2009, 10:50am

Judge Gary Sanderson did a good, but rare, thing last week. He quickly threw out a frivolous lawsuit.

He did it with prejudice. That means the frivolous filer, Amy Modica, who was trying to sue Beaumont lawyer Frank Calvert for "verbal assault," is barred from bringing an action on the same claim.

For using his authority and judgment decisively to prevent possible abuse of our civil justice system, Judge Sanderson deserves praise. He was doing what he's supposed to do, making a judgment.

It's the kind of careful decision judges too often seem to avoid, to our detriment.

There is no "right to sue" for any claim one can dream up. Our courts don't have to accept every lawsuit that comes its way, just because it was filed in the proper format. Judges should throw out frivolous cases such as Ms. Modica's--those that seem to be meant to intimidate or bully rather than question an actual law.

In this case, Judge Sanderson did right. The lawsuit was filed Dec. 19 and dismissed Feb. 26. The judge stepped in and prevented Modica from using the power of the court--state power, if you will--to harass Mr. Calvert.

Would Judge Sanderson have acted so rapidly had the wronged party not been a lawyer? Would he have reacted differently if Ms. Modica had counsel, rather than suing as a private citizen, pro se?

Many of the baseless, frivolous lawsuits filed on a daily basis--there is no shortage--are filed by lawyers against average citizens or businesses. They are lawyer-driven and they often proceed because judges seem reluctant to show their legal molars.

Here's hoping Judge Sanderson and more of his brethren stand up against those abusers of the system so the truly aggrieved have the quick access to courtroom relief as was the case of Mr. Calvert.

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