Question: When is a case frivolous?
Answer: If the court finds that the case is groundless and litigated in bad faith. Indiana follows the American Rule in which both parties pay their own fees. In the absence of statutory authority or agreement between the parties to the contrary —or an equitable exception—a prevailing party has no right to recover attorney fees from the opposition. In any civil action, the court may award attorney’s fees as part of the cost to the prevailing party, if the court finds that either party: (1) brought the action or defense on a claim or defense that is frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless; (2) continued to litigate the action or defense after the party’s claim or defense clearly became frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless; or (3) litigated the action in bad faith. A claim is “frivolous” if it is made primarily to harass or maliciously injure another; if counsel is unable to make a good faith and rational argument on the merits of the action; or if counsel is unable to support the action by a good faith and rational argument for extension, modification, or reversal of existing law. A claim is “unreasonable” if, based upon the totality of the circumstances, no reasonable attorney would consider the claim justified or worthy of litigation. A claim or defense is groundless if no facts exist which support the legal claim relied on and presented by the losing party, but an action is not groundless merely because a party loses on the merits.