In 2008, an LA trial judge declared attorney Charles Kinney to be a “vexatious litigant” – under a statute requiring such a designee to get court permission before filing any new lawsuit. Without getting permission, Kinney filed a new lawsuit on behalf of a co-owner of his property, against his neighbors. He lost and appealed.
A couple of weeks ago, the Court of Appeal really hammered him – in a published opinion. In re Kinney (12/8/11) ___ Cal.App.4th ___, 2011 WL 6091839.
The Court affirmed on the merits – and then held that Kinney was using the co-owner as a proxy for himself. The Court recounted in detail Kinney’s long list of failed litigation – representing both himself and his clients. The Court concluded: “This opinion will serve as a prefiling order prohibiting Kinney from filing any new litigation — either in his own name or in the name of [his proxy] — in the courts of this state without first obtaining leave of the presiding judge. Disobedience of this order will be punished as a contempt of court.” The Court sent a copy of its opinion to the State Bar.
By coincidence, my wife – Diana Sam – just won a case against Kinney. Kinney represented an Oakland homeowner, suing a neighbor for harassment resulting in alleged damages (including reduction in the value of the property and emotional distress) of over $2 million. After the defendant was served, she wrote a letter of apology to the plaintiff – admitting all the allegations (including one that said she had put dog feces on plaintiff’s front door)! Only then did she retain Diana. After that letter, not much chance of contesting liability. But at trial, Diana held the damage award down to only $6,000.