Statistically, the number of self-represented or pro se lawsuits has increased exponentially in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Some statistics show that cases in which one party is pro se / self-represented range up to nearly 90% of civil cases being brought in some state jurisdictions (e.g., National Association of Court Management, 2006 statistics). In some states, there is such an abundance of cases filed by pro se litigants that courts have designated certain days out of each week as “Pro Se Day” in which they hear only pro se cases. Statistically, if abusive / vexatious lawsuits filed by self-represented / pro se litigants were a disease it would be an epidemic.
Although not all pro se litigants are abusive / vexatious, the vast majority of lawsuits brought by pro se litigants are in fact demonstrated to be meritless and abusive / vexatious, and a high percentage of ALL pro se / self-represented lawsuits fail to receive any favorable ruling.
Study: unrepresented civil litigants lose more often.
Are there been any cases that a Pro-Se has won ?
Abusive pro se litigants can often create a snowball effect of other extremely damaging events for innocent defendants. The first problem that arises is the great difficulty in finding an attorney willing to take a case in which the plaintiff is a pro se litigant, especially an aggressive pro se litigant with a history of filing baseless lawsuits. Innocent victims seeking legal representation against pro se litigants will often hear from attorneys (if they hear anything back at all after leaving messages) that:
- “Pro se litigants are a pain in the ass because they file countless motions and judges bend over backwards for them.”
- “What if the pro se litigant comes after me and my family? I can’t risk getting involved.”
- “We never take cases dealing with pro se litigants.”
- “The only way we’ll take your case is if you pay us $50,000 up front because pro se litigants always drag out their cases by filing for continuances after continuances and other time-wasting motions.”
Another problem that can be incurred by innocent defendants of an abusive pro se litigant when they finally are able to find an attorney to defend them is when the attorney promises to “fight aggressively” for the victim-defendants. Yet, in reality, these opportunistic attorneys equate the innocent defendants’ desperation with dollar signs. These kinds of unscrupulous attorneys realize that abusive pro se litigants know all the tricks in the book and the attorneys just allow them to play their games, taking years in court hearings and continuances in which nothing is really accomplished. Unethical attorneys like this often tell the innocent defendant shelling out tens of thousands of dollars such statements as, “really, I’ve got this. You just need to trust me. These cases just always take a long time. I’m the attorney and I know what I’m doing. By the way, I’ll need another $2,000 from you.” It’s horrible enough for innocent people to have a meritless, harassing, defamatory lawsuit filed against them by an abusive pro se litigant, but then to find themselves taken advantage of by an unethical, unprofessional attorney makes the ordeal that much worse.
Yet another difficulty innocent defendants face in meritless, harassing, defamatory lawsuits filed by abusive pro se litigants comes from the bench itself. Many times judges themselves can feel threatened by the courtroom antics of pro se litigants or just grow weary of the endless stream of lengthy rambling motions that pro se litigants are infamous for filing. They will then “suggest” to innocent defendants, “why don’t you just settle this to put an end to it.” In other words, the innocent victim is pressured by the judge to reward the abusive pro se litigant just so the judge is no longer inconvenienced. This is nothing short of extortion.
For innocent defendants who are homeowners, homeowner insurance companies oftentimes find every excuse imaginable to breach their contract and refuse to provide promised representation to the policy holder, even when specific umbrella policies promise to defend policy holders against defamation lawsuits. If a homeowner can actually succeed in getting their homeowner insurance company to agree to uphold its contractual duties and obtain legal representation for their policy holder, more often than not the homeowner insurance company will reward the abusive litigant (whether pro se or represented by an attorney) by offering to settle rather than “put out the money” to defend the innocence of the defendant. Many abusive litigants – pro se or represented by an attorney – know that more often than not they can be rewarded for filing meritless, harassing lawsuits if a defendant’s insurance company gets involved. It’s a horrible scam and again this practice is nothing short of extortion.