CJAC: Civil Justice Association of California

Governor Derails Plaintiffs' Attorneys Agenda

By Todd Roberson on 10/11/2011 @ 11:48 PM

Tags: Legal Climate, Legislature, Plaintiffs Lawyers

Governor Jerry Brown had until the end of Sunday to sign or veto bills introduced this year in the Legislature, and so we've now come to the end of the first year of the two-year legislative cycle. With a new Democratic Administration at the helm going into 2011, there was great uncertainty over what this Legislature and Governor would do after six years of a Republican Administration.

There were over 2,300 measures introduced this year and CJAC reviewed all of them looking for bills worthy of concern or support. We ended up closely tracking 91 of them.

In the end, of the 41 bills CJAC opposed, 35 were amended or held in the Legislature. Of the six that got to Governor Brown, he vetoed five of them. That's a 97.5% kill rate for CJAC!

As Cheryl Miller of The Recorder reports here, the Governor vetoed all three of the employment lawyer lobby's priority bills for 2011. This included:

AB 267, which would have prohibited employment contracts in which California employees to agree to the use of legal forums and laws of other states.

AB 325, which would have created a new right of civil action with one-sided plaintiff's attorney fees if an employer fails to provide an employee bereavement leave.

AB 559, which we highlighted previously and would have eliminated judges' ability to decide the amount of attorney's fees in discrimination suits with small awards.

You can also read our previous blog about plaintiffs' attorneys other priority bills that were stopped in the Legislature.

It is worth noting that CJAC has one full-time lobbyist and later in the year added a second part-time lobbyist, compared to the four lobbyists at the plaintiffs' bar association. According to the California Secretary of State's website, the plaintiffs' bar outspent CJAC on lobbying in 2011 by 8.5:1 and in 2010 by 7.5:1. With California's legal climate continuing to be ranked as one of the worst in the country and the ongoing efforts by the trial bar to continue to create litigious new laws here, there is much work to be done. However, as the numbers illustrate, despite the extensive trial attorney attempts in California, CJAC's efforts have been effective and well received in the Capitol.

Additionally, CJAC supported 16 bills, six of which were signed into law. This included a nice victory on Sunday when the Governor signed AB 1219 (Perea), which allows gas stations to ask customers for their zip codes at pay-at-the-pump stations in order to deter fraud. The bill was necessary in light of the recent California Supreme Court's recent decision in the Pineda v. Williams-Sonoma Stores, Inc. case which resulted in hundreds of class action claims against a variety of industries for requesting customers' zip codes.

For more information please visit our Legislative Center.

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