Civil Justice Leadership Awards Luncheons Begin
By Todd Roberson on 12/01/2011 @ 10:48 PM
This week CJAC held its first two luncheons to present our 2011 Civil Justice Leadership Awards. On Tuesday we presented an award to Senator Lou Correa in Anaheim with over 30 guests in attendance (Correa is pictured here with CJAC Legislative Director Katherine Pettibone on the left and President Kim Stone on the right.) IMG_5642.JPGHe received the award for being a strong ally against legislation that would increase unwarranted lawsuits and for authoring SB 883, which unfortunately did not pass but would have established immunity for employers who rely in good faith on the rules of the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement.
Yesterday we traveled to Fresno to present an award to Assemblymember Henry Perea (pictured here between Katherine and Kim), and his luncheon was attended by almost 40 guests. IMG_5651.JPGPerea received his award for opposing harmful legislation as well and for authoring AB 1219, which was signed into law and allows gas stations to ask customers for their zip codes at pay-at-the-pump stations in order to deter fraud. As we have mentioned before this bill was necessary after a California Supreme Court ruling resulted in hundreds of suits against a variety of businesses for requesting customers' zip codes.
Next week we will hold luncheons for our other two award recipients:
Assemblymember Don Wagner (R-70th Assembly District)
Wednesday, December 7th in Irvine
Wagner is receiving the award for being a consistent, strong voice for civil justice reform as Vice-Chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, which hears hundreds of bills each year that impact the civil justice system. He has authored and supported a number of bills that would bring balance to California's legal system.
Assemblymember Alyson Huber (D-10th Assembly District)
Thursday, December 8th in Sacramento
Huber, also a member of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, is receiving the award for her independent, open-minded approach to civil justice issues, which has resulted in her opposing several proposals that would have worsened California's legal climate.
Growing Concern over ADA Suits in San Francisco
By Todd Roberson on 11/28/2011 @ 10:48 PM
A new push to reduce ADA lawsuits has emerged in a city that has always proven to be unafraid of fighting for change. San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu recently introduced an ordinance to give priority for construction permits that would bring businesses into compliance with disabled access laws, would mandate that commercial landlords make tenants signing or renewing a lease aware of potential ADA issues, and would allow small self-service restaurants and retail coffee stores to exclude the square footage of floor area required for disabled access from the calculation of maximum allowable square footage.
Read the details here.
Chiu echoes a familiar refrain, saying in this SF Examiner article, "There have been a handful of individuals who have made a living out of suing small businesses. It's a cottage industry."
San Francisco Chronicle columnist Andrew Ross has honed in on this issue and Chiu's proposal the last couple weeks with two columns on these "opportunistic" lawsuits, the resources available to small businesses for help with compliance, and some of the victims in San Francisco that are highlighted in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's new "Latino Faces of Lawsuit Abuse" campaign. Read Ross' pieces here and here.
Here's hoping that lawmakers in other cities and in our State Legislature will come to share the same level of concern that Supervisor Chiu has and will soon be willing to take proactive steps to curb these lawsuits.
New CALA Report Summarizes Frustrations of Local Leaders and Small Businesses
By Todd Roberson on 11/17/2011 @ 10:48 PM
This week the California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) released a new report summarizing the roundtable discussions they held across the state in which they brought together local elected officials, community leaders and business owners to share different perspectives about how excessive litigation is hurting California and what can be done to stop it.
The report, which can be read here, focuses particularly on the challenges posed in trying to comply with disabled access laws and and Proposition 65, which requires warnings in advance of possible exposure to toxic substances.
For instance, Ann Kinner owns Seabreeze Books & Charts in Point Loma and was sued for ADA violations even though her business is in a historic district which prevents her from making changes to her property. She won the case, but still spent $10,000 in legal costs.
And Bob Bertelli owns a pharmacy in Atwater which is exempt from Prop. 65, but he was sued over a vinyl cover.
The report finds that, "while specific stories of lawsuit abuse varied from region to region, each roundtable discussion centered on a common theme: California's legal climate is severely hindering economic growth, hurting job creation and prolonging the recession. Due to this, California's small business owners are fed up with the Legislature's continued inability to pass meaningful reforms."
Hearings on California's Civil Justice Crisis
By Todd Roberson on 11/14/2011 @ 10:48 PM
The first of four hearings across California to highlight the impact of the state court budget cuts will take place tomorrow in Sacramento. The California Commission on Access to Justice, the State Bar of California, and the California Chamber of Commerce have joined together to co-sponsor the hearings, which will show how cuts in funding for the courts and legal services threaten efficient and effective use of taxpayer dollars and the protection of rights and equal treatment under the law.
CJAC has consistently opposed the cuts to the courts budget, which has been cut 30% over the last three years and suffered its largest cut ever in this year's budget. Californians need an adequately funded court system so they can resolve the many legitimate disputes that occur and these hearings will provide valuable insight on the impact of these cuts.
Tomorrow's hearing in Sacramento will be moderated by Justice Ron Robie of the California Court of Appeal, Dean Kevin Johnson of UC Davis School of Law, and Kevin Baker of the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
For more information and to RSVP, go to www.californiahearings.org.
Here is the list of hearings:
Sacramento: November 15, 12:30 p.m.
Pacific McGeorge School of Law
3200 Fifth Ave, Sacramento, CA 95817
San Francisco: November 30, 1 p.m.
Administrative Office of the Courts
455 Golden Gate Ave, San Francisco, CA 94012
Los Angeles: December 2, 1 p.m.
Southwestern Law School
3050 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90005
Irvine: December 7, 1 p.m.
UC Irvine School of Law
401 East Peltason Drive, Irvine, CA 92617
Congressman Dan Lungren Proposes ADA Reform
By Todd Roberson on 11/10/2011 @ 10:48 PM
A new proposal has been introduced in Congress, H.R. 3356, to give business owners a brief period of time to make ADA fixes before they can be sued. Congressman Dan Lungren (R-Gold River), from the Sacramento region, recognizes how vulnerable small businesses are to an exploitative lawsuit, and wants to give business owners 120 days to get their facilities in compliance after they have been notified of alleged violations.
Check out the news story run by the Sacramento's KOVR-CBS here, which features CJAC Legislative Director Katherine Pettibone explaining how "drive-by lawsuits" are about financial gain rather than increasing access.