Funnier than Letterman: California’s Vexatious Litigants List

July 14, 2014

Barbara Walters has her 10 Most Fascinating People list.

Santa has his naughty and nice lists.

David Letterman has his Top Ten list every weeknight.

The FBI has its Most Wanted Fugitives List.

And not to be outdone by all these other famous list makers, California has its very own list too. It’s called the “Vexatious Litigants List,” and it’s not a list you want to be on.

How do you get on it? Sue. Sue again. Sue a third time, a fourth time, and a fifth time. Sue recklessly. Sue your family, your friends, and your employers. Sue everyone you know. Sue the person who bumped into your shoulder on the street. Sue the woman who handed you your coffee this morning. Sue anyone with a checkbook.

In other words, the vexatious litigants list contains all the names of the people in California who have been determined by the courts as filing too many unmeritorious suits in their lifetime. If you’re interested, here is the specific California Code of Civil Procedure language outlining how an individual gets placed on the list. And here is the actual list with all the names.

I’ve done some informal research on the people named on this list. Of all the people I looked at, one name in particular offers a bevy of amusing court documents: Melanie Latronica. On a list of people who are sue-happy, Ms. Latronica is sue-extremely-happy. She beats out almost everyone else in terms of numbers of suits and motions filed.

In one case, Ms. Latronica sues U.S. District Court Judge John Kirihara. Cases involving judges as the defendants are rare, but not unheard of.  Ms. Latronica sued the Judge for ruling to place her on the vexatious litigants list. The reasons offered by Ms. Latronica in her complaint are what make this case incredible. Here are some of them, directly quoted from the complaint.

She contends that Judge Kirihara had people harassing her, stalking her, making comments, tampering with her car, flattening her car tires, making her car smell like gas and “had government jet planes leave exhaust lines in the sky.” She further claims Judge Kirihara “had a Chinese dentist drill holes in [her] good teeth and then…filled with a metallic substance.” Sheasserts that Judge Kirihara, “his county, and his courthouse” are allegedly guilty of mass fraud, mayhem, false imprisonment, kidnapping, mass violation “at all forms of Employment like WAL-MART,” conspiracy, assault and battery, mass bodily injury“ with many unauthorized procedures,” hate crimes “on a daily basis from wicked people that [she has] never met,” illegal technical stalking and programming “dododododododod so loud that a person standing next to[her] can hear,” invasion of privacy, civil and human rights violation and illegal slavery at “places of employment.”

Reading this loopy nonsense in the formal style of a U.S. District Court’s case document is funny, to be sure. But I find that as you read more and more of this motion, it hinges on being somber. It becomes clear Ms. Latronica is suffering from some kind of mental illness. Suddenly, the motion seems a little less funny.

In our court system, we have a legal definition of mental incompetence to the point of no responsibility for criminal actions: insanity. This raises the question of whether the insanity defense could be utilized by a plaintiff. What if Ms. Latronica had a public defender or other lawyer claim in her suit against the Judge that she is insane, and that is a reason enough to have her removed from the list because her vexatious tendencies are due mental instability? Could it work?

I’m not sure. I am sure, though, Ms. Latronica, would have no problem suing again to find out.


photo cred: photopin cc via Hope for Gorilla