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A frivolous claim in legal terms refers to a lawsuit or motion in a lawsuit motivated by an intent merely to harass, delay or embarrass the opposition. In order to be found frivolous, the claim must have no arguable basis in law or fact. Frivolous acts can include filing the lawsuit itself, a motion for a court action in a lawsuit, an answer of a defendant to a complaint which does not deny, contest, prove or controvert anything, or an appeal which is without any valid supporting arguments.
A judge may award sanctions for a frivolous lawsuit, motion or appeal. Such sanctions may include awarding the opponent costs, attorney fees, and in at least one case, the offending attorney was ordered to attend law school courses. The award of sanctions may be made by the court on its own initiative or after a motion by another party.
The following is an example of a state statute dealing with frivolous claims:
"If the action is brought by a private citizen and the court finds that the action was frivolous or motivated by bad faith, costs and attorney fees may be taxed to the person."