We hear a lot about frivolous lawsuits and the havoc they supposedly wreck on - well - everything, if the politicians and pundits are to be believed. But, what is a "frivolous lawsuit"? I've never heard anyone try to define what this means. Maybe it's one of those things that we think we will recognize when we see or hear about it.
From a legal standpoint, a frivolous lawsuit would be one that is without any merit. Someone making a legal claim has the burden of proving his or her case. If there is no evidence to support the claim, it could be said to be without merit or frivolous. These cases generally do not get to a jury because there are various procedures the Court uses to dismiss such claims.
Many of us think the McDonald's coffee case is the perfect example of a frivolous claim. What we heard in the media was that a lady spilled hot coffee on herself and a jury gave her millions. That just sounds wrong. Why would a jury of twelve supposedly rational people make someone who has made a frivolous claim rich? The answer is simple - because there is a whole lot more to the story than you probably heard about in the media.