Appeal by vexatious litigant fails

Last updated 05:00 19/02/2011

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The Court of Appeal has rejected a bid by a Queenstown man in a case stretching back 10 years to the Alexandra District Court.

A full court of the High Court in Christchurch found David Stanley Heenan was a vexatious litigant and ordered him not to start or continue any civil proceedings in August 2009.

Heenan appealed the decision, which was heard by Court of Appeal Honourable Justices Grant Hammond, Robert Chambers and Terence Arnold.

In a written decision last week Justice Arnold said Heenan, since April 2000, started or was a party to many proceedings in District and High Courts, pursuing essentially the same arguments.

Proceedings have origins in a claim brought by Heenan against Da Vella Gore, of Queenstown.

The Alexandra District Court, in 2000, ordered Heenan to repay Ms Gore money, plus interest, he solicited from her by cheque. Mr Heenan – adjudicated bankrupt by the Invercargill District Court in December 2000 – never accepted the judgment, alleging the cheque was fraudulently altered.

The Court of Appeal decision says numerous legal submissions obscured the real issues and scandalous allegations were features of subsequent attempts at litigation.

After bankruptcy, Heenan tried to resist a mortgagee sale of a Queenstown property and failed to co-operate with the official assignee, including hiding a vintage Buick car and serving a short jail term for doing so.

He then started many proceedings, aimed at challenging the Alexandra District Court decision and the bankruptcy ruling.

"Mr Heenan's proceedings have been characterised by allegations of impropriety and fraud, extravagantly expressed, against an ever-expanding group of defendants, now numbering 69."

His conduct led to solicitor-general proceedings, which sought a declaration of vexatious litigation.

The justices described Heenan's submissions as page after page of invective, scandalous allegations, irrelevancies and constant repetition of the same complaint pursued unsuccessfully in proceeding after proceeding.

"Mr Heenan ... describes people who act for opposing parties or who do not accept his arguments by epithets such as "corrupt" or "criminals" and makes them defendants.

"He describes judges as "liars and fools" ... judges who determined earlier judicial decisions were rightly determined are ... described as "mimicking judges."

"He sees himself as a once wealthy man who has been reduced to poverty by a fraudulent conspiracy."

It could not be seriously argued the High Court was wrong to make its vexatious litigant order, the justice said.

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The appeal was dismissed.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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