Created: Wed, 05 Feb 2014 06:33:00 PST
Updated: Wed, 05 Feb 2014 10:37:48 PST
SAN DIEGO – What do the San Diego Police Department, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Royal Family of Spain have in common? They’ve all been sued by Pamela Stickler.
The 47-year-old San Diego woman has filed nearly 80 lawsuits in county and federal courts over the last two decades. Her targets include political figures like Bill Clinton, companies like Marriott, agencies like the Federal Transit Administration, and average citizens.
Nearly all of her suits have been dismissed for being meritless within a few weeks or months, but even one frivolous lawsuit can be expensive.
“You would have to hire an attorney, and the attorney would have to spend his or her time defending this frivolous lawsuit,” said legal analyst Jonathan Brenner. “It could costs thousands, tens of thousands of dollars, and in certain instances even more.”
In 2003, Stickler was flagged and placed on California’s “Vexatious Litigants List.” First published in 1991, the list contains nearly 2,000 names and aliases of people who have repeatedly filed meritless claims. A number of prisoners are included in the list.
Vexatious litigants must seek pre-approval from a judge before initiating a lawsuit in a California court.
“We're all about affording everybody a day in court. And so the delicate process is, where do you draw the line? Where's due process? Where's abuse of process?” said presiding San Diego Superior Court Judge David J. Danielsen.
Danielsen declined to discuss any specific cases, but said truly meritless litigation is rare. It adds to the court’s workload, he said, but not significantly.
“It's a relatively small part of a very big process. It's part of the normal cost of doing business for us.”
The biggest impact is on those targeted by a frivolous lawsuit, Danielsen and other attorneys told San Diego 6.
Stickler continues to file lawsuits in Superior Court, but has turned her attention to the federal level and the filing of administrative claims, public records show. The 47-year-old has no listed address and could not be reached for comment.
Staff members at a homeless services center in North Park confirmed she uses the facility to pick up mail, but hasn’t stopped by in several days.
In the past year, Stickler has hand-delivered administrative claims to at least 10 cities throughout San Diego County. Stickler’s filings are often for accusations that she was improperly asked to leave a facility by police, or that someone is falsely trying to arrest her.
In other cases, city clerks are unable to classify her allegations and list them as “unintelligible.”