CJAC: Civil Justice Association of California

Recap of a Very Busy Day in the Judiciary Committees

By Todd Roberson on 05/08/2012 @ 06:00 PM

Tags: Legislature

There was a lot of action in both the Assembly Judiciary Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee hearings today, which included lengthy discussion of ADA lawsuits and how to stop those who are exploiting the law for financial gain.

Most significantly, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a compromise ADA reform measure - SB 1186 - with only one "no" vote. The bill is joint authored by Senate President Darrell Steinberg and Senator Bob Dutton and is still a work in progress. But the authors have stressed that they aim to stop the practice of drive-by plaintiffs extorting settlement payments.

While there is a lot of negotiation still to come over the bill, it was encouraging to see a recognition on all sides that there are indeed bad actors abusing the law.

The committee did reject a proposal by Senator Mimi Walters - SB 1163 - that would have provided 120 days to fix ADA violations before a lawsuit can be filed.

Also, the committee unfortunately voted to approve SB 1528 by Steinberg. This bill is also still a work in progress but threatens to overturn the California Supreme Court's ruling last year in Howell v. Hamilton Meats. That ruling held that an injured plaintiff can only recover damages in the amount that was actually billed for medical treatment rather than the retail rate that medical providers could charge an uninsured patient for that treatment. There will be intense debate over this bill in the months ahead.

Meanwhile in the Assembly Judiciary Committee, a bill essentially identical to Walters' proposal - AB 1878 by Assemblymember Beth Gaines - was also rejected.

The committee also voted to water down AB 2282 by Assemblymember Bill Berryhill, which originally would have limited the plaintiffs bringing ADA lawsuits to those who were actually harmed by the violation. The bill will now refer this issue to the California Commission on Disability Access for further study.

On a separate note, we are pleased to announce that a CJAC-sponsored bill - AB 2274 by Assemblyman Ricardo Lara - passed out of the committee without any no votes! The bill requires a vexatious litigant to obtain court approval for additional filings when they have fired their attorney. Currently, vexatious litigants only need to retain an attorney at the outset of a case to avoid having to get court approval for their filings.

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Day at the Capitol a Great Success!

By Todd Roberson on 04/27/2012 @ 05:00 PM

Tags: Legislature, Legal Reform

This past Tuesday we held our 2nd annual "Day at the Capitol" with the California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse. Thanks to months of preparation by CJAC and CALA staff we had great turnout and excellent programs! The day's activities included:

  • A luncheon attended by over 80 participants who got to see a 15-minute clip of a soon-to-be-released documentary film called "Wheels of Fortune" that examines abusive ADA lawsuits in California. The film is being made by Peter Spirer, an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker. The luncheon also featured a victims' panel that included business owners and medical professionals who discussed the impact of frivolous litigation on their lives.
  • Visits to 35 state legislators' offices in the Capitol, where our participants shared their experiences with lawsuit abuse and discussed our priority legislation for the year.
  • A public forum on the south steps of the Capitol, which featured Senator Tom Harman (R-Huntington Beach) and included testimony on the impact of ADA, Proposition 65, and other types of lawsuits.
  • Our annual legislative reception to close out the day, the highlight of which was an appearance by Governor Jerry Brown! The Governor talked with a number of our attendees who told him of their difficulties with abusive lawsuits. The reception was also attended by dozens of legislators and legislative staff.

We are very pleased with how the day went and are grateful to those who took part!

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Agencies to Meet with Business Coalition on Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Reforms

By Todd Roberson on 04/05/2012 @ 05:00 PM

Tags: Legal Reform

We have a positive development in the push for reform of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) to report. The agencies that enforce the FCPA have agreed to a meeting with business representatives and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform in response to pressures from Congress for the administration to respond to growing calls for reform. The planned meeting between the Chamber, Department of Justice and the Securities Exchange Commission will be the first serious discussion of reforms between business leaders and enforcement agencies in decades.

The DOJ and SEC have faced mounting criticism from US business leaders for not coming forth with clarifying guidelines that the DOJ committed to issuing in 2011. Enforcement agency actions are also being questioned in the media as over-zealous agency enforcement and collection of record-breaking fines still have not yielded a single successful FCPA prosecution.

The agencies announced their intention to meet with business representatives after receiving correspondence from Senate Judiciary Committee Members Amy Klobuchar and Chris Coons, as well as the Chamber and more than 30 business organizations across the country.

FCPA reform is an important issue for the continued growth of California's global trade industries. For those interested in this issue we would also like to refer you to the California Coalition for Responsible Litigation. You can find their Facebook page here and you can also email them at responsiblelitigation.ca@gmail.com to join their distribution list.

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ADA Seminars in Modesto and Redlands This Week

By Todd Roberson on 03/14/2012 @ 12:00 PM

Tags: Americans with Disabilities Act

CJAC will be holding two seminars on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance this week.

On Thursday, CJAC Legislative Director Katherine Pettibone will present to the International Code Council in Modesto. The seminar will go from 11:30pm-1:00pm.

On Friday, CJAC President Kim Stone will present at the Redlands Chamber of Commerce. Assemblyman Mike Morrell is co-hosting the event and it will last from 7:30am-9:30am.

If you would like to attend, please call us at 916-443-4900 for more details.

While CJAC seminars are educational only, not specific legal advice, they help small business owners become more familiar with the law and how to avoid a costly lawsuit.

If you would like us to hold an ADA compliance seminar in your area, please give us a call.

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ADA Reform Bills Abound

By Todd Roberson on 03/06/2012 @ 11:00 AM

Tags: Americans with Disabilities Act

There is no shortage of proposals in the California Legislature this year to change the way the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is enforced in our state, a reflection of the fact that the problem of abusive ADA lawsuits is not getting any better. Fully understanding and complying with both the federal ADA and the state disabled access regulation continues to be a challenge for too many small business owners, and it is clear that more needs to be done to reduce the number of lawsuits while continuing to increase access for the disabled.

At this point, the following bills from legislators across the state and from both parties have been identified as attempts to address this problem:

AB 1610 - Don Wagner (R-Irvine) - Provides for notice of an alleged ADA violation and provides 120 days to fix the violations before a lawsuit can be filed.

AB 1878 - Beth Gaines (R-Roseville) - Provides for notice of an alleged ADA violation and provides 120 days to fix the violations before a lawsuit can be filed.

AB 1879 - Beth Gaines (R-Roseville) - Requires the State Architect to prepare a report containing all federal and state disabled access regulations and note any state regulations that are in direct conflict with federal regulations.

AB 1994 - Alyson Huber (D-El Dorado Hills) - Requires all complaints to be filed with the county planning department where an alleged disabled access violation has occurred and that the county work with a certified access specialist to develop a compliance schedule for remedying violations.

AB 2282 - Bill Berryhill (R-Ceres) - Currently a spot bill relating to ADA lawsuits (a placeholder that may be amended later into a substantive bill).

AB 2325 - Chris Norby (R-Fullerton) - Provides for notice of an alleged ADA violation and provides 120 days to fix the violations before a lawsuit can be filed.

SB 1186 - Robert Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga) - Provides for notice of an alleged ADA violation and provides 90 days to fix the violations before a lawsuit can be filed.

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