Shalant v. Girardi, et al.

Plaintiff, an attorney, was previously declared a vexatious litigant and was subject to a prefiling order issued under Code. Civ. Proc. 391, barring him "from filing any new litigation" in propria persona in a California court without leave of the court's presiding judge. The litigation stemmed from a fee-splitting dispute with another attorney. Plaintiff filed the present litigation through counsel, but lost his representation while the action was pending. On defendants' motions, the trial court dismissed plaintiff's complaint on the ground he had not complied with section 391.7 and the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that section 391.7 applied only to actions filed in propria persona be vexatious litigants. The court affirmed the Court of Appeals and held that, by its unambiguous terms, section 391.7, subdivision (a) authorized only a "prefiling" order prohibiting a vexatious litigant from "filing" new litigation without prior permission, and only when the litigant was unrepresented by counsel. Subdivision (c) of the section provided that the court clerk shall not "file" any such litigation without an order from the presiding judge permitting the "filing," and if the court clerk mistakenly "files" the litigation without such an order, the litigation was to be dismissed. Therefore, section 391.7's dismissal provision did not apply here because plaintiff was not in propria persona when he filed the litigation.