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, 17 May 2013 11:35
For years I have said that anyone who looks at the private settlements related to Proposition 65 (The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986) or the 60-Day Notice Section on the Attorney General's website would definitely come to the conclusion that there is a clear abuse of this initiative.
The problem is that a large group of Californians were not around when voters approved Prop. 65, or were too young when it passed to understand it. This has created a large learning curve in explaining to people how it is being abused. One great article on the abuse was written by Anthony Caso back in March 2012 for the Federalist Society. Mind you, this focuses primarily on the private settlements and the bounty hunter issues, but it is still a good read.
Earlier this year, Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) introduced AB 227 to combat Prop. 65 abuse. CALA was one of the first to applaud Assemblyman Gatto for introducing this bill to address a concern of his constituents. He saw an abuse and he wanted to try and correct it. I think it would be fair to say that the trial lawyers and environmentalists were not thrilled when they first saw the text of the bill. Gatto was willing to sit down with them and others to narrow the focus of his bill and see if we could get some kind of language that was workable.
At the April 30th Assembly Judiciary Committee hearing, the amended language to AB 227 was introduced and both the environmental community and trial lawyers added their support. The amendments to AB 227 narrowed the focus of the bill's application to alleged violations relating to exposure to alcohol and food-related chemicals, tobacco smoke and vehicle exhaust. In only these cases, an alleged violator can avoid a lawsuit by paying a $500 penalty for each facility where the violation occurred and posting the required warning signs within 14 days of being notified of the violation. This legislation has passed out of two policy committees on unanimous votes.
Then came the game changer. On May 7th (Trial Lawyer Lobby Day), around 11:30 a.m. a large group of people received an email from the Governor's Office entitled, “Prop. 65 Stakeholder Briefing Invitation.” It announced a meeting to take place that same day at 3:30 p.m. to lay out the Governor's proposals of reform for Prop. 65. His reforms are outlined here.
Not only does the Governor jump into the debate on Prop. 65 reform, he does it on the Trial Lawyer Lobby Day of all days. This is huge. If anyone is frustrated with how Prop. 65 is being abused, it is Governor Brown. He has a long history on this issue and the fact that he has injected himself, his staff and key members of his administration is big.
One of the key reform elements is abusive lawsuits. To quote Governor Brown, "Proposition 65 is a good law that has helped many people, but it's being abused by unscrupulous lawyers." The Governor wants to improve the law so it can do what it was intended to do. There will be a series of stakeholder meetings over the coming weeks to see if there is agreement on his reform package. If so, I would think that language might be amended into Assemblyman Gatto's AB 227 in the next couple of months.
One of the most interesting aspects of the Governor's recent announcement is that he views the Prop. 65 debate not only as an environmental issue, but also as an economic development issue. CALA is very supportive of the Governor's efforts and will be at the table to help push for common sense reform to stop abusive Prop. 65 lawsuits. Just as in the discussion regarding reform to California’s Americans with Disability Act laws, there is common ground and I am hopeful that we will see major legal reform in this area by the end of summer.
Published on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 14:10
In 1998, the California Legislature designated the second full week in May each year to honor the important contributions of citizens who serve on juries, making citizens’ right to trial by jury possible. This year marks the 16th Anniversary of Juror Appreciation Week. For those of you who have served on a jury, CALA would like to applaud you.
Jury service contributes to our American system of justice and is an important form of service to local communities. Today, we express our appreciation for you: thank you to the millions of citizens in California and the United States for making our country a symbol of justice.
However, it is unacceptable that many Americans avoid jury service. Our system of justice is unique in this world, and we must all participate to ensure it works.
To quote California Supreme Court Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, "Trial by jury is one of the fundamental ideals of American democracy; serving as jurors reminds us that these ideals exist only as long as individual citizens are willing to uphold them."
So, during Juror Appreciation Week, we ask everyone to answer the call and when that jury summons arrives in the mail, not to discard it, but to do your civic duty and play your part in our judicial system.
Published on Sunday, 17 March 2013 17:00
KCRA broadcast a story about CALA's press cofnerence prior to its Day at the Captiol on March 13, in which over one hundred CALA supporters discussed the need for legal reform to improve California's economy with California's legislators. Speakers included California CALA Executive Director Tom Scott, Civil Justice Association of California President Kim Stone and small business owners Martin Diedrich and Joe Derian, both of whom have been sued under Prop. 65.
Published on Wednesday, 06 March 2013 09:38
CALA supporter Suresh Kumar was featured in the Davis Enterprise. Here is a look at the story:
When lawsuits targeting businesses not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act first swept through Davis, Suresh Kumar saw the signs on Olive Drive.
Like dominoes, Redrum Burger, Shell and — eventually — Kumar’s Olive Drive Market joined the slate of businesses sued for ADA non-compliance. Kumar paid $6,000 to settle his lawsuit.
“The reason people settle is that if you’re actually going through the legal process, it’s probably 10 times more expensive,” he said. “People who are involved in the lawsuits are attorneys, and they know this.”
Read the story here
Published on Tuesday, 19 February 2013 04:00
On February 18, the Los Angeles Business Journal published commentary from Maryann Marino, Southern California Regional Director of CALA, regarding the recent dispute between California and Texas about job creation. Here is what she had to say:
"Californians, especially small-business owners, are crying out for relief from the threat of abusive lawsuits. Yet Brown, when faced with an opportunity to acknowledge how the state’s policies hamstring small businesses and carve a new path forward, instead compared the situation to flatulence.
If California doesn’t pass legal reform soon, the next questions reporters might be asking Brown might not be why businesses might move to Texas, but why they did move."
To read the entire commentary, click here.