It may be too late to run for cover. One of America’s most notorious pro se “serial filers” recently hit Richmond federal court, where he did not get a very warm welcome.
A self-proclaimed “semi-professional litigator,” Arthur O. Armstrong has “no less than 349 separately assigned case numbers” in federal dockets with Armstrong as plaintiff, according to a search by Magistrate Judge Dennis Dohnal, of the Eastern District of Virginia. The tally includes 126 lawsuits in federal district courts in Pennsylvania, Georgia and North Carolina, as well as 219 appeals in federal appellate courts.
Armstrong already has been subjected to pre-filing injunctions, which require court approval before he is allowed to formally file a complaint. But nothing seems to stop the Elk City, N.C. resident, including the $350 filing fee for each case he logs in a clerk’s office.
As this is Armstrong’s first appearance in the Eastern District, Dohnal was obliged to detail the frequent flyer’s “attempts to employ the judiciary as his chosen vehicle to harass would-be defendants.” Armstrong brings a variety of disputes to federal court, then “papers” courts with repeated motions that clog the clerk’s offices.
His beef this time? Dohnal construed Armstrong’s pleadings to allege that Armstrong received a speeding ticket, failed to appear at the required court date, had a judgment entered against him, failed to pay a fine, and, “as an obvious consequence,” his license was suspended, his car impounded and collection procedures commenced.
In Armstrong’s view, however, this sequence of events translates into claims like a count for “carjacking” associated with a tow truck charge.
Dohnal is trying to set up a protective perimeter, including a local pre-filing injunction.
On March 16, he recommended to Senior U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne that Armstrong be required to show cause why his suit should not be “summarily dismissed” and why he should not be sanctioned for filing “what appears to be yet another of his ongoing frivolous and vexatious lawsuits.”
Here’s betting Armstrong will be happy to tell the court all about his complaint.
By Deborah Elkins