Californian vexatious-litigant roundup

by Walter Olson on April 20, 2008

It looks as if, barring intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court, serial ADA litigant Jarek Molski and his lawyer Thomas Frankovich, longtime Overlawyered favorites both, won’t be filing any more accessibility lawsuits in California’s populous Central District. The Ninth Circuit’s decision not to disturb an order to that effect by the late Judge Edward Rafeedie, however, came by a surprisingly narrow margin, with nine judges dissenting. Among them, Judge Marsha Berzon said Rafeedie should not have acted unilaterally to bar the two from suing throughout the district, while Alex Kozinski went so far as to maintain that Rafeedie had failed to offer evidence in suggesting “that Molski is a liar and a bit of a thief”. The majority of judges, however — and the Ninth is among the last circuits anyone would accuse of an excessive wish to shut down litigation — disagreed. (Dan Levine, “9th Circuit Judges Blast Order Barring ADA Lawyer”, The Recorder, Apr. 9). One final bit from the account in the Recorder might cause the reader’s jaw to drop open, as it did mine:

Rafeedie died of cancer late last month, but Frankovich still holds a grudge.

“What he did is morally reprehensible,” the attorney said Monday. “Acting morally reprehensible creates bad karma, and sometimes you have to pay the piper for bad karma.”

In other news of vexatious California litigants:

For years, self-described public-interest litigator Burton Wolfe has bragged that he was one of the few people to get off the state’s so-called vexatious litigant list for self-represented plaintiffs who file frivolous lawsuits. Those who are put on the list can file “pro per,” or do-it-yourself, lawsuits only with a judge’s permission. But after enjoying a few years off the blacklist, the 75-year-old Wolfe has sued his way back onto the roster. … [His name was restored to the list after] he sued the San Francisco Food Bank and America’s Second Harvest for setting up what he calls a food “racket” in the privately owned low-income senior-housing Eastern Park Apartments where he lives.

(Lauren Smiley, “Vexatious Litigant Burton Wolfe Fighting Eviction After Threatening More Lawsuits”, San Francisco Weekly, Feb. 20). Perhaps the most celebrated of modern San Francisco’s vexatious litigants is Patricia A. McColm, who has been profiled in a number of news stories including Ken Garcia, “Woman who sues at drop of hat may get hers”, San Francisco Chronicle, June 6, 2000, reprinted at Forensic Psychiatric Associates site. Incidentally, the British court system is thoughtful enough to post its list of vexatious litigants online, an obvious aid to persons who might find themselves the target of threatened suits by persons on the list. But although the California courts have a webpage discussing the fact of their having a list, I could find no sign that they had posted the list itself online. Have any U.S. states (or Canadian provinces, etc.) done so?

{ 2 comments }

1 wavemaker 04.22.08 at 8:09 am

This dirtbag calling a deceased judge “morally reprehensible” would be, er…

2 Russ Ward 07.03.08 at 5:26 pm

Your right, the California Clerks office maintains the list, and a copy is not readily available, or posted. I have obtained a copy of the list, and am willing to post, if you know where I could do so.

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