Frivolous litigation

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In law, frivolous litigation is the practice of starting or carrying on law suits that have little to no chance of winning. While colloquially, a lawsuit may be termed frivolous if they personally find a claim to be absurd, regardless of its legal standing, in legal usage (with which this article is concerned), as by the judiciary of the United States, "frivolous litigation" is considered to consist of a legal claim or defense presented even though the party or the party's legal counsel had reason to know that the claim or defense was manifestly insufficient or futile, that is to say, had no legal merit and may also lack legal standing.

Frivolous litigation may be based on absurd legal theories, may involve a superabundance or repetition of motions or additional suits, may be uncivil or harassing to the court, or may claim extreme remedies. A claim or defense may be frivolous because it had no underlying justification in fact, or because it was not presented with an argument for a reasonable extension or reinterpretation of the law. A claim may be deemed frivolous because existing laws unequivocally prohibit such a claim (see Good Samaritan law).

In the United States, Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and similar state rules require that an attorney perform a due diligence investigation concerning the factual basis for any claim or defense. Jurisdictions differ on whether a claim or defense can be frivolous if the attorney acted in good faith. Because such a defense or claim wastes the court's and the other parties' time, resources and legal fees, sanctions may be imposed by a court upon the party or the lawyer who presents the frivolous defense or claim. The law firm may also be sanctioned, or even held in contempt.

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Statutes and rules of court penalizing frivolous litigation

In the United States Tax Court, frivolous arguments may result in a penalty of up to $25,000 under 26 U.S.C. § 6673(a)(1). Similarly, section 7482 of the Internal Revenue Code provides that the U.S. Supreme Court and the federal courts of appeals may impose penalties where the taxpayer's appeal of a U.S. Tax Court decision was "maintained primarily for delay" or where "the taxpayer's position in the appeal is frivolous or groundless."[1]

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