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Court takes novel approach to limit frivolous appeals–making employees pay legal fees

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

It’s too early to tell if it’s a trend, but it’s good news nonetheless: As more employees and applicants file lawsuits with no basis, courts are trying to dismiss them quickly and then limit appeals.

For employers, that likely means less time and money spent defending claims that are clearly baseless.

Ordinarily, as a matter of right, every litigant who loses a case in federal court is entitled to one appeal to the Court of Appeals. That’s true even if it seems clear the appellant will lose the case because the trial court decision was sound.

But many frivolous lawsuits are filed by individuals who represent themselves—and who are so poor that they are exempt from paying filing fees. Courts are now refusing to allow appeals without payment of those fees if it seems clear the appeal would be brought in bad faith.

Recent case: Carline Curry was unhappy with her job at a water treatment plant and filed several ­lawsuits against her employer over the years. In her latest complaint, she provided the federal court judge with a long list of fragmented ­questions, but little specific infor­mation.

The judge dismissed the case, adding that any appeal would not be “in good faith.” That means if Curry does appeal, she will have to pony up appeals costs and fees. If she can’t afford the fees, she can’t appeal. (Curry v. Mansfield, No. 1:11-CV-1171, ND OH, 2011)

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