CJAC: Civil Justice Association of California

Washington Post: Banning Obesity Lawsuits has Surprising Consequences

Posted on 06/02/2015 @ 10:00 AM

So far, 26 states have enacted “commonsense consumption” laws, which prohibit people from suing food purveyors for making them fat, giving them diabetes, or adding to their high blood pressure.

In a recent study, economists at Vanderbilt discovered an unintended consequence of these so-called “cheeseburger laws.” In states that took away the right to file obesity lawsuits, overweight residents were motivated to lose weight and eat healthier. Strange results, indeed.

A recent Washington Post article takes an in-depth look at the mystery. To read the article, click here.

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Apple Valley Man Sues Over 100 Businesses Over Disability Violations

Posted on 05/18/2015 @ 10:00 AM

An Apple Valley man, claiming to be disabled, has sued more than 100 businesses for Americans with Disabilities Act access violations. However, video evidence has emerged indicating that the man was not disabled at all, reports ABC7 Los Angeles, in a recent investigative report.

Carl Barnum III says that he is disabled and has sued over 100 business owners for thousands of dollars each, claiming their violations of the ADA kept him from having complete access to their businesses.

Videos shot of Barnum at a dog show, trotting around the ring, kneeling, and twirling, all while handling a giant breed of dog called a Leonberger, may spell the end of his alleged career as a professional plaintiff. The dogs are reportedly very strong and can weigh well over 100 pounds according to the Leonberger Club of America.

He's taken in roughly $360,000, with another $135,000 going to his lawyer. Critics say Barnum is nothing more than a "serial plaintiff," a person who makes a living filing bogus lawsuits.

"It's deceitful, it's fraudulent, it's manipulative and it's theft," said attorney Lisa Salisbury. She told the Eyewitness News reporter that the 61-year-old may have aches and pains, but the video, photos and other evidence bolster her belief that he is not truly disabled.

To read the full report, click here.

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Senate Bill 67 Becomes 2-Year Bill, Galgiani Calls for Support

Posted on 05/14/2015 @ 10:00 AM

State Senator Cathleen Galgiani comments in a recent op-ed posted in the Lodi News, that although the problem of predatory ADA access lawsuits has gained visibility, her bill, SB 67, and others introduced this year to provide relief to businesses, face resistance in the Legislature.

SB 67 would exempt small businesses from statutory damage liability in connection with construction-related accessibility claims. The bill would also extend the period for correcting construction-related violations resulting in claims from 60 days to 120 days of being served with the complaint, and reduce a defendant’s minimum statutory damage liability to $1,000.

“Similar legislation by several of my Assembly colleagues of both parties have been gutted, quashed or opposed by the Assembly Judiciary Committee this year,” the Senator notes.

Based on her assessment that her bill most likely would not pass out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senator has decided to make SB 67 a 2-year bill, allowing more time to organize broad support for the measure to move forward in 2016.

Galgiani additionally notes that she would like to hear from businesses or property owners who have been victims of these lawsuits or threats of lawsuits.

Letters or emails of support from individuals, businesses and organizations that are concerned about ADA lawsuit abuse may contact the Senator at her Modesto office: State Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, 1010 10th St., Suite 5800, Modesto, CA 95354; or email senator.galgiani@senate.ca.gov.

Senator Galgiani represents the 5th Senate District of California, which includes Lodi.

To read Senator Galgiani’s op-ed, click here.

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Brad Pitt Takes On The $9 Billion Shakedown Against Chevron

Posted on 05/06/2015 @ 10:00 AM

Beating out George Clooney, Brad Pitt recently won film rights to a book covering the $9 billion shakedown of Chevron in Ecuador, a story they believe big enough to be made into a movie.

"Law of the Jungle," a 2014 book by Paul Barrett, tells a story about the world's biggest corporate shakedown: “the multibillion, fraud-ridden, bribe-laden, media-driven tale of a left-wing lawyer's effort to use Ecuador's corrupt justice system” to wring billions out of the oil company, reports Investor’s Business Daily.

The case was based on claims that Chevron was responsible for rain forest pollution in Ecuador's Amazonian rain forest and sought $18 billion.

A cottage industry devoted to maligning Chevron cropped up and for 22 years, they fought back. Last year, the oil company finally won after U.S. Judge Lewis Kaplan denounced the whole operation as "fraudulent" and ordered that no judgment against Chevron be enforced.

To read the Investor’s Business Daily story, here.

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Small victory in ADA lawsuit reform

Posted on 04/27/2015 @ 10:00 AM

Assembly Bill 54 (Olsen) is one of several current bills addressing a wave of frivolous ADA access lawsuits hitting counties across the state, with about 60 businesses in Stanislaus and Merced counties alone. Recent amendments taken on the bill in the Assembly Judiciary Committee watered it down, but Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen called it a “first step in the right direction.”

AB 54, as originally written, would have given companies two months to fix ADA violations. Such “right to cure” language, with varying amounts of time, is also found in Assemblyman Adam Gray’s AB 52 and in Senator Cathleen Galgiani’s Senate Bill 67, two other pieces of legislation currently working their way through the legislative process.

Disability activists argued aggressively against Olsen’s right to cure language. The language was deleted in favor of a provision giving companies a $250 tax credit toward the cost of hiring a state-certified inspector to survey conditions at a business and suggest changes.

Although frustrated, Olsen noted that the committee vote is the first movement toward reform in years. AB 54 is scheduled for an Assembly Revenue and Taxation hearing in May.

To read the Modesto Bee story, click here.

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