Vexatious litigants are now required to get the approval of a judge before they could file any lawsuits in the future, according to a recently enacted law.
Sen. Victor B. Hocog (R-Rota), who was the acting governor at the time, signed into law last Oct. 30, 2019, Rep. Janet Maratita’s (R-Saipan) House Bill 21-26, which requires vexatious litigants to first get the approval of a judge before they could file any lawsuits in the future. This is now known as Public Law 21-11.
Vexatious litigants, according to P.L. 21-11, is defined as a person who, in the immediately preceding seven years, has commenced, prosecuted or maintained on his or her own behalf at least five litigations other than in small claims court that have been finally determined adversely to the person or unjustifiably permitted to remain pending at least two years without having been brought to trial or hearing and repeatedly relitigates or attempts to relitigate on his or her own behalf the same or similar cases repeatedly.
“The Legislature recognizes that Commonwealth courts have been burdened with frivolous litigation, which is straining the judicial system and interfering with the effective administration of civil justice,” the legislation noted.
“…The cost of litigation in the Commonwealth can be extremely expensive and even a party that wins his or her case often is subject to significant damage in the time lost and the expense of the defense,” it added.
The legislation noted that, without preventing vexatious litigants from repeatedly filing litigation that were already previously filed and dismissed, even simple civil cases “cost more than a hundred thousand dollars to defend.”
“Some people are addicted to litigation. Others are convinced that they are right and will keep finding excuses to sue if they can. The people are often insolvent and thus represent themselves and get special waivers of filing fee from the courts because they are indigent. Meanwhile, the defendant(s) continue to pay large amounts of money on defense and have no choice as to whether to incur the defense costs,” the legislation noted.
In other jurisdictions, lawyers who participate in potentially vexatious litigations run the risk of being disbarred.