Sanctions for Frivolous Lawsuit In Texas

Chapter 10 of the Civil Practice & Remedies Code authorizes sanctions against parties who file frivolous pleadings and motions. See TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE ANN. 10.001 et seq. (Vernon Supp. 2000). In this context, frivolous conduct includes asserting a claim, defense, or other legal contention in a pleading or motion that is not warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law or the establishment of new law. Id. at 10.001(2). Asserting an allegation or other factual contention in a pleading or motion that has no evidentiary support or, for a specifically identified allegation or factual contention, is not likely to have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery, also constitutes frivolous, sanctionable conduct. Id. at 10.001(3). Under Chapter 10, a court, on its own initiative, may sanction parties for conduct that violates section 10.001. In such a case, the court may enter an order describing the specific conduct that appears to violate section 10.001 and direct the alleged violator to show cause why the conduct has not violated that section. Id. at 10.002(b). Chapter 10 further instructs that the court may not award monetary sanctions on its own motion unless the court issues its order to show cause before a voluntary dismissal or settlement of the claims made by or against the party or the party's attorney who is to be sanctioned. Id. at 10.004(e). In Penson v. Ohio, 488 U.S. 75, 102 L. Ed. 2d 300, 109 S. Ct. 346 (1988), the Supreme Court discussed the responsibilities of an appellate court upon receiving a "frivolous appeal" brief. The court stated: "once the appellate court receives this brief, it must then itself conduct a full examination of all the proceedings to decide whether the case is wholly frivolous." Id. at 84.