The verdict is in and it's not good. California is one of the most litigious states in the nation.
How bad is it? It's bad. More than one million lawsuits are filed every year. While some of these lawsuits have merit, many do not and these lawsuits are costing each and every one of us.
California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) is a nonpartisan grassroots movement of concerned citizens and businesses who are fighting against lawsuit abuse in California.
Published on Friday, 18 April 2014 12:47
On Tax Day 2014, more than 60 southern California business owners and operators met at TAPS Fish House in Corona, CA to listen to Congressman Ken Calvert discuss his bill, H.R. 994, the ACCESS Act. This bill is designed to help small businesses avoid abusive lawsuits associated with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
At the event, CALA’s Executive Director, Tom Scott, reminded all guests that, “California is burdened with taxation, regulation, and litigation. A business can manage the first two, but the third can put you out of business.” He didn’t have to say it twice. Many of the small business owners in attendance had been victims of lawsuit abuse.
Next, Congressman Calvert spoke about the ACCESS Act. He stated that, as in many professions, an erosion of basic ethics has taken place in the legal industry. Some lawyers, Calvert said, have positioned their practices solely around profit from abusive ADA lawsuits.
Further, when these attorneys win an ADA lawsuit, they usually receive much more money than the actual plaintiff gets, which is outrageous. The expenses associated with these lawsuits at the national level have significantly increased over the past few decades. The openly abusive nature of these lawsuits contributes to the total cost of tort litigation in the United States, which greatly outweighs that of our fellow countries. Calvert said:
“The annual direct cost to annual tort litigation exceeds $250 billion. 54% goes to lawyers and administrative costs. Measured by a share of GDP, Americas tort system is more than twice as expensive as it was in 1960, twice as expensive as current system in France and Canada, and three times more expensive than it is in Great Britain. This is a huge problem that we need to fix.”
If passed, the ACCESS Act will provide potential victims of abusive ADA lawsuits a chance to fix the alleged villation before a lawsuit can move forward. For example, if a complaint is filed, the recipient will have 60 days to respond to it. If something needs to be fixed, the recipient will have 120 more days to fix it. Congressman Calvert believes that everyone should at least be given the opportunity to follow the law, and fix the problem. This is the heart of the bill.
Enough is enough. Tell your Members of Congress that it’s time to pass the ACCESS Act and help our nation create jobs, not lawsuits.
Published on Wednesday, 16 April 2014 15:45
Some things should not come as a surprise. When it comes to the California Legislature, one of the least surprising things is that there are certain legislators who have an appetite for pleasing the Consumer Attorneys of California. State Senator Noreen Evans has done exactly that with SB 1381, which is related to genetically engineered food. Some of you might remember Proposition 37 from 2012, an initiative aimed at labeling genetically modified food. Well, it seems that Senator Evans was not happy with the fact that California voters rejected it, so she has quietly reinvented it in SB 1381.
Proposition 37 would have required labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if the food was made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways. It also prohibited labeling or advertising such foods as "natural". CALA opposed Prop. 37 because it would have created more opportunities for lawsuit abuse. This initiative was written by the same individual who wrote Proposition 65 back in 1986 which has led to rampant abuse of our legal system. And I am sure that person’s fingerprints are somewhere on SB 1831, which states that California consumers have the right to know, through labeling, whether the foods they purchase were produced with genetic engineering. The bill also allows people to sue for alleged violations of the labeling law and to collect attorney's fees.
I support transparency when it comes to food and food sourcing, but I become suspicious when a bill that is meant to be about food includes a private right of action. To me, this becomes a total cash cow for the trial lawyers. We have seen this time and time again through the Americans with Disability Act, Proposition 65 and Proposition 37. It creates a cottage industry for the trial lawyers, encouraging lawsuits against businesses up and down this state and hurting job creation.
SB 1381 is the next Proposition 65. It will result in another cottage industry of trial lawyers shaking down businesses across this state (and probably even out of state, as we have seen with Proposition 65). California does not need more lawsuits, it needs to create more jobs and improve its business climate. More litigation is not the answer.
A meeting at a Corona restaurant gave Rep. Ken Calvert a chance to talk about his bill to curb frivolous lawsuits against businesses stemming from the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Calvert, R-Corona, joined California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse at the event. CALA contends lawsuit abuse is a “hidden tax” that imperils small businesses and costs jobs.
“The Americans with Disabilities Act was intended to improve access for disabled Americans to help them go about their day, not serve as a vehicle for shakedown lawsuits against small businesses,” said Calvert in a CALA news release. He said he introduced the ACCESS Act to protect businesses from abusive ADA litigation.
Hundreds of businesses in California, including many in the Inland Empire, have been sued by two men represented by Citizens for Disability Access, a San Diego-based law firm. The complaints allege the businesses violate the ADA by not providing legally required access or parking spaces to the disabled.
Here’s a link to a story Press-Enterprise reporter Sandra Stokley wrote about the lawsuits.
Calvert, whose district stretches from Corona to Aguanga, is up for re-election this year. He is opposed by Democrats Kerry Condley, Chris Marquez and Tim Sheridan. Independent political analysts expect Calvert to retain his seat.
Orange County Register's Seal Beach reporter Annie Zak covered our recent well attended and spirited small business roundtable at Spaghattini -
Here is what she had to say:
Republican Assemblyman Travis Allen spoke to a roomful of small business owners and city officials in Seal Beach earlier this month in conjunction with the group California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse to discuss how to end frivolous lawsuits that end up hurting small businesses, sometimes to the point of closing permanently.
“We don't want to live in a society that is abusive in our legal environment,” said Allen, insisting that legal change needs to be a bipartisan effort.
Tom Scott, president of the California branch of CALA, said that though legitimate suits are filed against businesses, there is also a lot of misuse.
“It's not just about lawsuit abuse. I'm more interested in what litigation costs,” Scott said. “Legal reform, to me, has to be talked about in the same breath as taxes (and) regulation.”
The group's message was that money saved on litigation could be used to save and create jobs, citing that if a mom-and-pop business uses all its money on a lawsuit and has to shut down, its employees are hurt, as well.
Read the entire story and learn how you can get involved here