The costs of litigation can be substantial, but a seldom used statute arms defendants with a tool to minimize these costs. If a defendant has not filed another pleading, La. R.S. 13:4522 allows the defendant to request that a court order the plaintiff to post a bond as security to cover certain costs. If the plaintiff fails to post this security in the time fixed, his case will be dismissed without prejudice.
The security identified in this statute can include expert witness fees, deposition costs, exhibit costs, and other related expenses. The defendant bears the burden of showing the amount needed for proper security. If a plaintiff’s damages are questionable, or preliminary investigation shows that the plaintiff might be apportioned most of the liability for the incident, the attorney filing the suit may think twice before pursuing the claim further, especially if a substantial amount of security is ordered.
By its terms, the statute does not apply to cases brought in forma pauperis. It also does not apply to claims filed in the Parish of Orleans. Everywhere else, the provisions of La. R.S. 13:4522 can add a layer of protection in the defense of frivolous claims.
John Grinton is a Keogh Cox associate whose practice areas include commercial and construction litigation. When not practicing law, John spends most of his time with his wife and son, and their two dogs.