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Cowles Thompson Shareholder Sim Israeloff recently won a motion to declare the opposing plaintiffs “vexatious litigants” under Chapter 11 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code (TCPRC). Section 11.054 of the Code outlines the criteria for finding a plaintiff a vexatious litigant. (This was the subject of a prior article written by Sim Israeloff, “Dealing with a Vexatious Litigant” – which is one of the top articles viewed on our website.)

When a High Volume of Baseless Suits Becomes Abuse

Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 145 – Payment of Costs Not Required – allows an indigent person to file a lawsuit without the typical filing fees. When this rule is abused, such as through repeated filings of baseless lawsuits while claiming the right under Rule 145, Texas law provides a means to prevent such abuse through a vexatious litigant motion.

In the recent matter, Cowles Thompson represented an international law firm and two of its attorneys. Our clients had represented a lender who had sued homeowners for defaulting on their mortgage loan and recovered a judgment of foreclosure and subsequent eviction in 2019. The owners filed and lost several pro se lawsuits challenging the foreclosure, in which courts repeatedly found that the foreclosure and eviction orders were legally correct. But the pro se plaintiffs continued filing suits including suits against our clients as defendants. In other words, they sued their opponent’s lawyers.

The latest suit named the lender, the lender’s attorneys (our clients), other attorneys, and even a Texas District Clerk and County Sheriff who had carried out the court-ordered foreclosure sale and eviction. The suit included outlandish claims, including:

  • Our client “pulled every kind of corrupt trick she could come up with: lies, filing false documents, forging judge’s signatures, all with the help of the District Clerk. …”
  • “The clerks would alter the documents we filed… “
  • “The clerk drew up a final judgment document and forged the judge’s signature…”
  • “The Sheriff, District Clerk, and everyone who touched this eviction conspired in falsification of judicial documents. … “
  • The lenders and “their attorneys, the District Clerk, the Sheriff, his deputies, and others … submitted fraudulent documents, violations of his or her oath as servants of the court, moral turpitude, dishonesty, corruption, misrepresentation, concealment of material facts, gross incompetency in the practice of their professions, violations of ethics of their professions, abuse of authority… falsifying of the sheriff’s deed, tampering with court documents…”

On January 3, 2023, the Court granted our Rule 91a motion to dismiss plaintiffs ’ claims against our clients, finding that the claims had “no basis in law or fact.”

On February 23, 2023, after a hearing that included a lengthy argument and explanation by the pro se plaintiff s, the Court granted our motion to declare the pro se plaintiffs vexatious litigants. The order provides that plaintiffs may not file future pro se lawsuits anywhere in Texas unless they obtain permission from the local administrative judge. This preliminary review is intended to prevent the plaintiffs from filing further baseless lawsuits, while still allowing them access to the courts in the event that they have future legitimate claims.


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