CJAC: Civil Justice Association of California

CJAC Provides Business Perspective At Prop 65 Legislative Overview Hearing

Posted on 08/25/2017 @ 09:30 AM


Civil Justice Association of California President and CEO John Doherty joined other business representatives, panelists from the Office of Environmental Health Hazards Assessment (OEHHA), academic leaders, as well as labor and consumer attorney representatives to provide testimony at a Proposition 65 oversight hearing on Wednesday in the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee.

Titled, “Proposition 65 Update: Toxic Chemical Exposure: Protecting and Informing the Public,” panelists covered the history and process of the Proposition, the 2016 amended warnings regulations and perspectives from business, consumers and labor.

“Some of the flaws of Proposition 65 have been a source of concern for honest and fair businesses across the country for many years and a current review is certainly timely,” Doherty said in his remarks.

Prop 65 was a ballot initiative known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 and requires the State to publish a list of chemicals that have been found to cause cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm. Businesses are then required to notify consumers of these chemicals in their homes, workplaces and in the products they purchase. While well-intentioned and leading to some successes, since its inception, businesses have struggled with ensuring they meet these requirements due to the proposition’s lack of clarity, overly broad limitations and unwarranted exposure to shakedown lawsuits.

To provide a business perspective on the effects of Prop 65, Doherty spoke to its original purpose and the misalignment of the current administrative and enforcement mechanisms to that purpose, which he stated was a focus on the prevention of knowing discharge of hazardous chemicals into water or onto land that may likely pass into a source of drinking water.

“Very few of the concerns you will see raised about the Act are related to its most significant purpose as conveyed during its passage,” said Doherty. Instead, businesses have become defendants against a constant propagation of settlements through Proposition 65’s inclusion of a private right of action provision that has led to an artificially high level of lawsuits involving warnings postings rather than its original intent of protecting the public from harmful chemicals.

“In 2016, businesses paid out over $30 million in settlements, all of which resulted from actions brought by private plaintiffs; 72 percent went to attorneys’ fees and costs and private plaintiffs got 4.5 percent…California governmental entities only account for just 2.8 percent of those settlements despite the original intent that they were the primary enforcement agencies.” Doherty went on to explain that due to each private or public entity’s enforcement actions and individual standards, the simple presence of a listed chemical without a warning is enough to trigger a lawsuit by a private party, at which point it is less costly for businesses to settle. With no ability to remedy the problem in current statute, this situation becomes especially egregious and, “it seems clear that the legal ability exists to do more to focus on bad actors and education, rather than relying so heavily on a private enforcement system with problematic fiscal incentives,” said Doherty.

Anthony Samson, Senior Attorney and Policy Advisor at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer highlighted the almost impossible situation that Proposition 65 leaves conscientious businesses regarding the decision to warn, and how that is impacted by the ever-present threat of litigation. Jeff Margulies, representing the California Retailers Association, addressed the serious concerns remaining regarding the new warning regulations. His testimony raised significant questions regarding the functionality and fairness of the new regulations, specifically addressing a potential burden-shifting inherent in the soon to be implemented policies.

The hearing also exposed a deeply concerning issue regarding the entire Proposition 65 process. As passed by the voters the initiative was meant to prevent discharge of chemicals into our public waterways, and warn people when they are being exposed to dangerous chemicals. Many of the presenters spoke of a major modification in the purpose of Proposition 65 – utilizing it as a method of banning harmful chemicals. This may be a laudable goal, but as University of California School of Public Health Dr. Megan Schwarzman stated in her testimony on Tuesday, the science is lagging behind the reality in terms of reaching that objective. California must make sure that, if the intent of Proposition 65 is to ban chemicals instead of its original purpose, the science behind the process is extremely solid to ensure that the process doesn’t unintentionally cause more harm than good.

While no action was taken by the E.S.&T.M. Committee at the overview hearing, CJAC sincerely believes in the good intentions of the Chairman, and hopes he will accept the challenge of championing a serious reform of Proposition 65 that preserves its original intent, protects families and children from harmful exposure to unnecessary chemicals, provides a fair and clear process for businesses and remains fully rooted in sound scientific principles.

CJAC stands ready to work towards this goal.

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CJAC Expands Political Team

Posted on 02/06/2017 @ 08:00 AM

The Civil Justice Association of California is pleased to announce the expansion of its political team. Marva Diaz joins the Association as Vice President of Political Operations and Micah Scheindlin as Political Director.

Marva and Micah join our FairPAC Director Julie Mahoney, who has been with CJAC for over three years. Together they form our political team.

Both Marva and Micah have extensive experience in the political arena.

With over 17 years of experience in both the public and private sectors, Marva has successfully worked on over 100 bills and collaborated on over 600 campaigns, ranging from internal corporate campaigns to gubernatorial races. Until recently, Marva served as Capitol Director for Assemblymember Adam Gray. She will oversee all political operations as it relates to the promotion of CJAC’s mission.

Micah comes to CJAC from one of California's pre-eminent political campaign firms, where he spent over 5 years as a full time consultant. He was involved in every facet of strategy and execution for state and local ballot measures, independent expenditures, and candidate campaigns. Micah will help shape and implement CJAC’s political strategies.

Marva and Micah can be reached at mdiaz@cjac.org and mscheindlin@cjac.org, or by phone at 916-443-4900.

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Please join CJAC as we say farewell and good luck to Hal Dasinger!

Posted on 12/15/2016 @ 08:00 AM

CJAC invites you to honor Hal Dasinger at a farewell and good luck party to be held Wednesday, January 4, 2017 at Downtown & Vine, 1200 K Street, Sacramento, from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

Please RSVP to Debbie Edgar at dedgar@cjac.org, 916-443-4900. (Flyer)

We hope to see you there!

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Please join CJAC as we say farewell and good luck to Kim Stone!

Posted on 11/15/2016 @ 08:00 AM

CJAC invites you to honor Kim Stone at a farewell and good luck party to be held Tuesday, December 6, 2016 at Ella, 1131 K Street, Sacramento, from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

Please RSVP to Debbie Edgar at dedgar@cjac.org, 916-443-4900. [Flyer]

We hope to see you there!

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Op-Ed: Nuisance lawsuits by local prosecutors: A dangerous game?

Posted on 09/27/2016 @ 09:00 AM

In an op-ed that ran in the Daily Journal this week, Kim Stone questions the dangerous precedent of nuisance theory lawsuits by local prosecutors. To read the op-ed, click here.

Nuisance lawsuits are the topic of CJAC’s Issue Briefing to be held September 28 in the Cafeteria 15L Ultra Room, 1116 15th Street, Sacramento, from 11:15 to 1:00. Free lunch will be served and free MCLE credit is available. It’s not too late to reserve a space. Click here for details or contact Debbie Edgar at 916-443-4900 to RSVP.

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