Monday, April 9, 2007

Pro se ‘frequent filers’ whacked in E.D.

Eastern District judges are cracking down on their frequent filers – pro se plaintiffs who keep using federal court filings as therapy for grievances, real or imagined.

U.S. District Judge Walter D. Kelley Jr. in Newport News says that plaintiff Ned N. Cary Jr. has filed at least eight separate actions in state and federal court since 1987, in an effort to redress his treatment by his former employer, the Anheuser Busch brewery in Williamsburg.

In his opinion in Morning Star Baptist Church v. James City County Police (VLW 007-3-104) Kelley develops an elaborate military metaphor to detail Cary’s “litigation war of attrition” against all things Bud. Cary filed his latest federal-court salvo after local police arrested him for picketing the plant with a sign that described a Busch HR employee as a “Negro Nazi.” Kelley pointed out that a Virginia state court already had ordered Cary to pay this particular HR employee $5,000 in attorney’s fees. Kelley then ordered Cary to pay an additional $5,070 in attorney’s fees for violating FRCP 11 with his frivolous and harassing lawsuit.

And in Alexandria, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III dismissed a prisoner’s 17th motion for reconsideration, filed after the inmate had been warned when he filed his 16th motion about the consequences of continued abusive and harassing filing behavior. The judge dismissed the inmate’s latest motion in Miles v. Angelone (VLW 007-3-106).

In both cases, the judges instituted a mother-may-I rule for the litigants. The pro se plaintiffs must seek leave of court to file again, and their lawsuits are subject to mandatory pre-filing review to weed out repetitive and frivolous claims.

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