CJAC: Civil Justice Association of California

CJAC Applauds Governor's Actions

Posted on 10/01/2012 @ 01:00 PM

Tags: Legislature, Americans with Disabilities Act, Legal Climate

Governor Jerry Brown had until midnight last night to sign or veto all the bills remaining on his desk, and we are happy to report that the results were great for CJAC. Late last night Brown vetoed the one bill CJAC asked him to veto and earlier this month he signed two CJAC-supported bills.

Altogether, 30 of the 31 bills we opposed this year were either killed or adequately amended. CJAC's one veto request was for AB 2346, authored by Assemblymember Betsy Butler (D-Los Angeles). The bill would have created major litigation traps for farmers by creating new ways to sue over working conditions for farm employees, even mere technical violations. The requirements would be enforceable by private lawsuits with lucrative awards of liquidated damages and only plaintiffs could get their attorney fees reimbursed.

In the Governor's veto message, which you can read here, he called AB 2346 a "flawed" bill that would "single out agricultural employers and burden the courts with private lawsuits." We couldn't agree more.

We were very pleased to see the Governor sign SB 1186 - the most serious attempt at ADA litigation reform to ever come out of the Legislature - and CJAC-sponsored AB 2274, which closes a loophole in the vexatious litigant statute.

We are cautiously optimistic about SB 1186. While it does not go as far as we would have preferred, there should hopefully be some relief provided by the restrictions the bill has created on plaintiffs' lawyers that want to exploit the ADA and the reductions in penalties for property owners that are making good faith efforts to comply. SB 1186 went into effect immediately upon being signed and we will be closely monitoring how it works in practice.

As for AB 2274 regarding vexatious litigants, we are grateful to Assemblymember Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) for authoring the bill. A vexatious litigant is someone who is suing solely for the purpose of harassment without even hiring an attorney. AB 2274 will prevent vexatious litigants from getting around the current restrictions by hiring an attorney just for the initial filing of a lawsuit. They will now have to retain an attorney throughout the entire case.

The 2011-12 legislative session is now officially over and we are pleased to have helped keep California's legal climate from getting worse while making some incremental progress with ADA and vexatious litigant reform. Thank you to all of our members and partners who helped make it happen!

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