CJAC: Civil Justice Association of California

Another Survey Ranks CA as Worst for Business; Brown Veto Will Keep it From Getting Worse

By Todd Roberson on 09/26/2011 @ 11:48 PM

Tags: Legal Climate

A report was released this month by Development Counsellors International (DCI), an economic development consulting firm, titled "Winning Strategies in Economic Development Marketing", in which DCI surveys corporate executives on their perceptions of state business climates and how economic development organizations can build a favorable image. Not surprisingly, they find that California has some work to do in this regard.

This is the sixth time since 1996 that DCI has conducted this survey, and California has been ranked 50th since 2002. This year 70% of respondents put California in their bottom three states in terms of business climate. California and New York swapped the first and second place spots on this list since DCI first conducted the survey in 1996.

You can find more info on this year's report here.

California continues to rank at or near the bottom of states in business and legal climate studies. Earlier this year, a survey released by Chief Executive magazine also found California to be the worst state in the nation for business - for the seventh year in a row. And last year, the Institute for Legal Reform ranked California 46th in its State Liability Systems Ranking Study.

Fortunately, we received some welcome news today that will at least keep our litigation climate from getting worse. Governor Brown vetoed Assembly Bill 559, one of the more egregious proposals this year backed by plaintiffs' attorneys.

This bill would have taken away judges' discretion to reduce or deny attorneys' fees in unlimited civil cases when plaintiffs recover less than $25,000 (the minimum to qualify as an unlimited civil case). The issue arose in a case where a plaintiff received an $11,500 award but his attorney asked for $870,000 in fees. The judge denied that motion, and by vetoing AB 559, Governor Brown has preserved judges' ability to decide what amount of attorneys' fees are appropriate.

Cases where the amount in dispute is between $7,500 and $25,000 are supposed to be filed as limited civil cases. This limits the time and cost of litigation compared to unlimited civil cases, so we should maintain the deterrent to plaintiff's attorneys inappropriately filing unlimited civil cases.

You can read the veto message here. Thank you Governor Brown!

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Poll: Most Ridiculous Lawsuit of September

By Todd Roberson on 09/22/2011 @ 11:48 PM

Tags: Frivolous Lawsuits

Please take a look at Facesoflawsuitabuse.org's September nominees for "Most Ridiculous Lawsuit of the Month". Your choices this month are:

  • Young adults sue mother for sending cards without gifts and playing favorites
  • Xbox Live user claims Microsoft owes him $500 billion for not responding to his legal notice
  • Fired after boasting about his "superior legal mind," rookie lawyer sues New York firm for $77 million
  • Woman struck by fan-thrown football at training camp sues team
  • Plaintiff who filed over 160 ADA lawsuits caught on tape hiking despite supposed end-stage emphysema

Click here to vote! Good luck deciding!

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Expansion of 9-1-1 Liability Protection Signed into Law

By Todd Roberson on 09/21/2011 @ 11:48 PM

Tags: Legislature

We are pleased to announce that Assembly Bill 1074, authored by Felipe Fuentes (D-Los Angeles), was signed into law today by Governor Brown. CJAC has supported the bill since its introduction this year, as it would provide non-traditional communication providers the same civil liability protection given to traditional telephone companies in providing 9-1-1 support services. Current law protects phone companies from ordinary negligence claims when providing service for 9-1-1 calls originating from landlines, but 9-1-1 calls made through the Internet or digital technology do not have the same civil liability protections.

AB 1074 will help encourage the use and development of new technology that could help save lives. According to this LA Times article, there was a 28% increase in 9-1-1 calls between 2007 and 2010, and as many as 5% were not answered in a timely manner. New technologies have changed how the public accesses law enforcement and measures like this provide a common sense way of facilitating better rescue services.

Click here to see the Governor's legislative update. Kudos to the Legislature and Governor Brown for enacting AB 1074!

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CJAC ADA Seminars Can Provide Valuable Guidance for Small Businesses

By Todd Roberson on 09/21/2011 @ 12:00 PM

Tags: Americans with Disabilities Act

Yesterday CJAC President Kim Stone continued our Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) seminars, this one hosted by State Senator Joel Anderson and the Poway, CA Chamber of Commerce. CJAC has held a number of seminars in recent years across California to help small business owners understand the importance of complying with ADA to avoid a costly lawsuit. The ADA rules can get very complicated and it can be difficult to know if you're in compliance. When you combine that with the fact that there are serial plaintiffs out there, as we often point out, abusing the law to force settlement payments regardless of whether the fixes are made, business owners must be diligent when it comes to disabled access.

While CJAC seminars are educational only, not specific legal advice, they help small business owners become more familiar with the law and what's at stake. The only sure-fire way to avoid a lawsuit is to become fully ADA-compliant, and there is still a great deal of education needed on how to accomplish that.

If you'd like to schedule an ADA seminar in your area, contact our staff member Marie Ortega at mortega@cjac.org or 916-443-4900.

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More on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

By Todd Roberson on 09/20/2011 @ 11:48 PM

Tags: Legal climate, Legal reform

Recently we blogged (see here) about the need for reforming the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). We'd like to share an editorial written by The Economist magazine last week that also points out the flaws in the FCPA and how Britain was able to craft a law that works better. In Britain, companies can avoid the tough penalties if there is an anti-bribery policy in place that a rogue or misguided employee did not follow. The Economist acknowledges that because so few FCPA cases have gone to trial, judges haven't been able to provide guidance on what the confusing law means. So the FCPA "means whatever an aggressive prosecutor says it does." Read the editorial here.

FCPA enforcement actions and fines are at an all-time high since the law took effect in 1977. The fight in Washington D.C. over reform continues to heat up. Read the latest in this Reuters article from last week on the prospects for legislation this year.

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