Controversial New High Frequency Litigant Fees – Orange County Superior Court

A significant fee increase will become immediately effective for high-frequency litigants involved in either limited or unlimited civil cases in the Orange County Superior Court of California. Pursuant to Government Code 70616.5 the court may assess a $1,000 supplemental filing fee for a complaint by a “high-frequency litigant” in a construction-related accessibility case (as defined in CCP§ 425.55(b)).Having filed 10 or more cases in the preceding 12 months will be used to determine if the lawyer or pro se litigant is considered “high frequency.”

The arguments behind this change are indeed compelling.

Proponents of the change cited that in a two year period, from 2012 to 2014, 5,392 complaints involving construction-accessibility issues were filed in both state and federal courts yet more than half were filed by two law firms – and a whopping 46% of the complaints were filed by only 14 parties.

Yet, the opposition, namely Disability Rights California (DRC), cites that classifying those lawyers who specialize in construction-related accessibility litigation as high frequency litigants is harmful to the disabled community which relies upon having these laws enforced. They write:

There is nothing inappropriate with a lawyer having a thriving practice. In fact, these cases may be perfectly lawful and often are the only means to address disability access violations. Assuming that it is appropriate to subject the claims of frequent plaintiffs to these procedures, it is not appropriate to apply these hurdles to the cases filed by those who hire a lawyer to file only one claim.

We also believe it is poor public policy and opens the door to a “slippery slope” to impose additional procedural rules on attorneys and their clients based on the number of cases in which the lawyer has been involved.

The read the full arguments as presented, please see the Bill Analysis.

To view the notice of the fee change, please see the Orange County Superior Court’s Notice.

Leave a Comment