The Indiana Supreme Court recently provided some guidance on how to deal with Pro Se litigants who are using the judicial system to abuse, harass or clog the system with frivolous claims.  In Zavodnik v. Harper, 17 N.E. 259 (Ind. 2014), the court was dealing with a “prolific, abusive litigant” with 123 cases appearing under his name on the Odyssey system (almost all were filed since 2008) in addition to 34 cases at the appellate level.  The Court discussed the ways trial courts have been left to address abusive litigation in the past (i.e. attorney fees awards, sanctions, damages), but ultimately determined these remedies where useless against many Pro Se litigants who are essentially judgment proof.  The Court  stated that “the Courts of this state, after due consideration of an abusive litigant’s entire history, may fashion and impose reasonable conditions and restrictions, guided by those in the statutes, rules, and cases outlined above, on the litigant’s ability to commence or continue actions in this state that are tailored to the litigant’s particular abusive practices.”  The court then detailed restrictions they believe are justified such as:

  1. Require the litigant to accompany future pleadings with an affidavit certifying the truth of their statements
  2. Require the litigant to attach a list to all future filings of all cases previously filed involving the same, similar or related cause of action
  3. Direct that all future filings that are not short, plain, simple, concise and direct be stricken
  4. Require the litigant to state clearly and concisely the relief requested at the beginning of their motion
  5. Require the litigant to provide specific page citations to supporting documentation
  6. Limit the litigant’s ability to request reconsideration or file repetitive motions
  7. Limit the number of pages, words, etc. in the litigant’s future filings
  8. Limit the length of the title for future filings
  9. Limit the number or length of exhibits for future filings
  10. Instruct the Clerk to reject any future filings that do not adhere to any reasonable restrictions imposed

Because Indiana doesn’t have a Vexatious Litigator statute, this case should prove to be very useful to anyone dealing with  a Pro Se litigant who is not playing by the rules.

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