The annual California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse “Day at the Capitol” is Tuesday April 4th, and we’re excited about the possibilities for meaningful movement toward reform in 2017! Over 150 business owners from across the state will travel to Sacramento to advocate for fairness in our civil justice system.
CALA’s priorities for the 2017-2018 legislative cycle focus on bringing relief to small businesses facing abusive and meritless lawsuits in three key areas: The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65), the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).
All three of these landmark pieces of legislation were intended to protect Californians from harm, by providing them with environmental and economic protection, as well as equality in physical access to shared spaces. However, unethical trial lawyers have manipulated these statutes to extract large sums of money from business owners for minor, technical violations of the law, often without allowing for any time to correct often honest mistakes. Fortunately for Californians, a bipartisan group of legislators have proposed numerous measures to reduce these lawsuits and protect good paying jobs.
Proposition 65: Assemblyman Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) is sponsoring AB-1583, which requires persons bringing an action under Proposition 65 to share the factual basis for their claim. Allowing an alleged violator to know how they have failed to comply with the law, creates an opportunity to cure the violation. Targeting compliance as the law intended, rather than accumulating legal fees for plaintiff attorneys, keeps enforcement focused on protecting California’s environment.
PAGA: Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield) has introduced a two bill combination to fight PAGA abuse, AB-1429 and AB-1430. Frivolous PAGA claims are among the most pernicious forms of shakedown lawsuits. PAGA was designed to protect the rights of workers, and give them the power to enforce the law against employers who ignore the law. In practice, PAGA lawsuits are focused on the most technical of violations, such as typos on paystubs or a Christmas bonus given without exacting documentation. These claims are often brought by former employees who were terminated for cause, and can quickly add up to more that one million for small workplace. Mr. Fong’s legislation would place limits on these outrageous claims, and in the process, save California jobs.
ADA: Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) is once again back in the trenches, and fighting against the meritless ADA lawsuits which plague small business in California. Although we had some legislative success in addressing ADA abuses in 2016, Mr. Gray’s AB-913 takes a new approach to tackling the problem. This bill imposes a new set of requirements on “extreme high frequency litigants,” those who file 15 or more claims in a 12-month period. The bulk of ADA claims are filed by the same group of lawyers, with each often filing several hundred lawsuits per year. This bill would also grant judges the power block filings by serial litigants.
We’re excited to highlight these bills as we gather in Sacramento this week – bringing the stories and real concerns of our state’s small businesses that are the engine of our economy.