Frivolous Appeals, Damages
People experience a wide range of emotions when they’re a party to a lawsuit, particularly when they have never been part to a suit before. Inevitably, certain individuals will want to counter-sue the other party for what they perceive to be frivolous factual or legal positions taken in a given case. In certain circumstances, a subsequent suit for abuse of process or malicious prosecution may be possible, but those claims often are not economically, practically or legally feasible.
Missouri has special court rules in place just addressing the prospect of a frivolous appeal. Under Rule 84.19, if the court determines that an appeal is frivolous, it may award damages to the non-appealing party as the court deems just and proper. “An appeal is frivolous if it presents no justiciable controversy and is so readily recognizable as devoid of merit on the face of the record that there is little prospect that it can ever succeed.” Dennis v. H&K Mach. Serv. Co., 186 S.W.3d 484, 487 (Mo. Ct. App. 2006). This is a high standard to meet if you are the party seeking damages for a claimed frivolous appeal. There are at least two important reasons for this rule: first, to prevent appellate courts from being overloaded with merit-less matters; and, second, to compensate parties for incurring expenses defending against baseless arguments.
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