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Adkins v. CP/IPERS Arlington Hotel LLC

Supreme Court of Virginia

June 8, 2017

Dora L. Adkins, Appellant,
CP/IPERS Arlington Hotel LLC, Appellee.

         Circuit Court No. 15-1984


         In this order, we consider whether to impose a pre-filing injunction against a pro se litigant who has engaged in a practice of vexatious litigation. For nearly a decade, the Petitioner has filed numerous pleadings in this Court, all of which have been meritless. In the interest of preserving judicial resources and protecting unwitting defendants, we feel compelled to address Petitioner's habitual filing of meritless appeals.

         I. Facts and Proceedings

         On April 7, 2017, this Court issued a Rule to Show Cause against Dora L. Adkins ("Adkins" or "Petitioner"), directing her to show cause why she should not be prohibited from filing any future pro se petition for appeal, or other pleading in this Court, without first obtaining leave of court. The issuance of this Rule was prompted by Adkins' petition for rehearing in Adkins v. CP/IPERS Arlington Hotel, LLC, Rec. No. 160685. On January 30, 2017, this Court refused Adkins' petition for appeal in that case after determining there was no reversible error.

         The underlying case is only the latest in a string of frivolous lawsuits initiated by Adkins as a pro se litigant. In this particular case, Adkins filed a complaint against CP/IPERS Arlington Hotel, LLC ("CP/IPERS") in the Circuit Court of Arlington County ("trial court") alleging breach of contract and gross negligence. Adkins alleged she was a guest at the Shirlington, Virginia Hilton Garden Inn for several days in August 2015. In her second amended complaint, Adkins alleged her hotel room had an unpleasant odor, no bath soap, a large stain on the carpet, and a Duvet covering that appeared unchanged following the departure of the previous guest. Adkins also claimed there was a problem with the door lock and that she suffered a severe, debilitating headache after a hotel employee sprayed a chemical on the lock. Adkins alleged she was moved to a different room which also had an unpleasant smell, a noisy air conditioner, a missing light bulb, and stains on the shower wall. Once she was moved, Adkins claimed the housekeeping staff was instructed to "watch her" and that someone entered her room despite the placement of a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door. Adkins further alleged she was forced by management to leave the hotel, but in a subsequent paragraph of her complaint, she stated she was ready to check out. Based on these alleged facts, Adkins claimed she was a victim of "Copy-Cat Hate Crimes" and "Health and Safety Hazards" at every Hilton Hotel in Northern Virginia. The hotel filed a demurrer to Adkins' second amended complaint, which the trial court sustained without leave to amend. The trial court dismissed the case with prejudice and Adkins unsuccessfully petitioned this Court for an appeal.

         In its brief in opposition to the petition for appeal, CP/IPERS accurately summarized Adkins' longstanding pattern of filing frivolous lawsuits against hotels and other businesses:

Pro Se Plaintiff Adkins is a habitual plaintiff against various hotels in the Northern Virginia area. She has over 14 lawsuits filed for identical problems, situations, and issues at the hotels, and she seeks the same remedies in each case. Pro Se Plaintiff Adkins continues to misuse the legal system and has filed Petitions for Appeal to multiple appellate courts on numerous occasions prior to this one.

         (CP/IPERS' Brief in Opp. at 1).

         CP/IPERS is correct. Since 2009, Adkins has filed 27 petitions for appeal in this Court, [1]with six of those petitions filed in 2016 alone. Adkins has also filed 21 petitions for rehearing. Additionally, Adkins has filed at least 41 pro se civil actions in the circuit courts of Northern Virginia, including 20 cases in the Circuit Court of Fairfax County, 17 cases in the Circuit Court of the City of Alexandria, and four cases in the Circuit Court of Arlington County. In these various lawsuits, Adkins has asserted breach of contract and tort claims against a host of service-industry defendants whom she alleges intentionally harmed her. Adkins' complaints contain baseless allegations predicated on her belief that she is being intentionally subjected to noxious fumes, poisoned by food she consumes at restaurants, and defrauded by various retail workers and hotel proprietors. For example, in her most recent petitions for appeal, Adkins has alleged:

- That she suffered severe emotional distress and became bedridden with stress when, upon withdrawing $350 from a BB&T bank in Oakton, Virginia, she was given counterfeit money containing "more than one president's portrait [ ] on the face of a five-dollar bill." See Adkins v. Branch Banking and Trust Company, Rec. No. 170112.
- That as a result of eating a pasta meal at Noodles & Company, she suffered "an internal severe pain injury" and "severe stomach injury of ringworms externally." See Adkins v. Noodles & Company, Rec. No. 161238.
- That the Mercedes-Benz dealership in Tysons Corner, Virginia, intentionally performed a defective replacement of the brakes on her vehicle, causing the brakes to squeak loudly. See Adkins v. HBL, LLC, Rec. No. 161164.
- That the GEICO insurance company refused to compensate her for "two very small and light scratches" and a "1-inch somewhat deep scratch" that she discovered when her vehicle was parked overnight outside a hotel. See Adkins v. Government Employees Insurance Company, Rec. No. 160578. Adkins also sought punitive damages because GEICO's employees "acted intentionally and maliciously" toward her, lacked "the basic knowledge regarding 'how to' process a claim for damages, " and caused her to "waste [her] time."
- That she contracted ringworm, suffered a migraine, and was exposed to dog urine and toxic chemicals while staying in a guest room at the Sheraton Premier Tysons Hotel. See Adkins v. JBG/Tysons Hotel, Rec. No.161145. In the JBG/Tysons Hotel case, Adkins attached a ...

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