Under what circumstances (if any) can an error of process doom a plaintiff's claim?
Process errors can include things like failure to serve notice or motions in a timely or correct fashion, or failure to file a timely response or petition.
My understanding is that a court can dismiss a case or decide it against a plaintiff for such errors of process, and that such decisions based on process failures are not usually granted an appeal.
If a plaintiff loses a case based on process errors before a trial but is still within the statute of limitations for his claim, can he always (or never) "start from scratch?" Or, put another way, can one lose one's right to seek redress of a grievance by failure to follow the rules of court?
For example: Suppose a plaintiff is suing (either criminally or civilly) pro se, so there is no attorney the court can sanction or the plaintiff can blame. After a drawn out process the court gets tired of the plaintiff's ignorance of process, grants a defense motion for dismissal, and refuses a plaintiff's petition for reconsideration. Can the plaintiff go back to "square one" and file an identical but new case? If so, it seems like that might be considered to pose an undue burden on the defendant. If not, it seems like the plaintiff is being denied rights due to rules that are, in general, arbitrary even if expedient.