Do you remember the lawsuit about the woman who ordered the McDonald’s coffee and spilled it in her lap and sued McDonald’s because it did not have a warning label on it? What about the woman who fell in the fountain at the mall while texting and wants to sue the mall? These lawsuits may seem fairly farfetched. They fall into the category called frivolous.
Black’s Law Dictionary defines frivolous as lacking a legal basis or legal merit; not serious; not reasonably purposeful (Garner, 2006). When people pursue such lawsuits as these it costs money. “The civil justice system is plagued by high ‘transaction costs,’ meaning that it is both expensive and time consuming to use the courts to resolve disputes” (Ruschmann, 2006, p. 60). Frivolous lawsuits should not be taken seriously. People should not be awarded money for things that they caused themselves, and they should not cost courts and consumer’s time and/or money.
There are many steps to go through once you decide to file a lawsuit. Many Americans suffer from injuries but only a small percentage of them file a lawsuit because many of them have valid claims but they have little money. Sometimes when plaintiffs, the person filing the lawsuit, go to trial there is a lot of money that has to be spent up-front. “Taking a large case on a contingency fee and advancing all the out-of-pocket cost is a very expensive proposition” (Bourhis, 2005, p. 76). Lawyers have created the contingent-fee arrangement. This is where “a lawyer agrees to take a case without any money up front and without requiring the client to pay an hourly or flat fee. In return, the lawyer is entitled to receive a percentage of the actual amount of money collected, generally 33 percent, but sometimes 40 percent if the case has gone through trial and/or appeal” (Rushmann, 2006, p. 23).
Once the lawyer decides to take the case, he or she must then decide who to sue. If the person primarily at fault has no money, it makes no sense to sue unless there is another defendant, the person being sued, who was also at fault and does have money (Rushmann, 2006). After the defendant has been notified he or she has several options. They can file a request to have the case dismissed explaining to the judge why dismissal is appropriate. Another argument for dismissal is the statute of limitations has run out. The plaintiff is required by law to file a suit within a given amount of time after being injured or they lose the right to sue. One other reason for dismissal is failure to state a cause of action, setting facts that entitle the plaintiff to a legal remedy or prove that the claim is frivolous. A cause of action is saying that a product was unreasonably dangerous and the plaintiff suffered injures while using it. The plaintiff must allege all of those elements in the complaint (Ruschmann, 2006).
Once issues are defined, the focus of the case is shifted to gathering evidence. Rules of discovery require a party to turn over evidence if it...