CJAC: Civil Justice Association of California

Mar 2, 2011

CJAC Asks State Supreme Court to Consider More Limited Rulings in Aftermath of ZIP Code Request Case

Over 70 Lawsuits Have Been Filed for Violations That Took Place Before Court’s Ruling on February 10th

SACRAMENTO - Kim Stone, President of the Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC), released the following statement today encouraging the State Supreme Court to consider making certain rulings prospective only and to allow a brief period of time for parties to implement the Court’s ruling. This comes in response to the 76 lawsuits, according to public filings, that had been filed against a variety of businesses as of yesterday in the aftermath of the Court’s February 10th ruling in Pineda v. Williams-Sonoma, Inc., which stated that merchants cannot request customers’ ZIP codes during transactions:

“The fact that this case went to the Supreme Court shows that there was a great amount of confusion about the law in question. We are concerned by the idea of holding a business liable for actions that were taken before the courts had made a final decision on what the law means, particularly when that business was not even a part of the case.

“Our concern is not with the Court’s interpretation of the law. In this case, however, both the trial court and the appellate court had actually ruled in favor of the defendant prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of the plaintiff, which is further evidence of the uncertainty surrounding the law.

“Less than a week after the Supreme Court’s ruling, more than a dozen lawsuits had been filed against businesses for violations, and that number was 76 as of yesterday. The businesses that have been sued will now have to spend significant time and money defending themselves for actions that at the time they thought were legal.

“Thus, we would respectfully request that in future cases of a similar nature the Court consider limiting the liability that results from its ruling to future violations only.

“We also believe it would be reasonable, given how quickly suits were filed, for the Court to consider allowing affected parties a brief period of time to implement the ruling so that it can be interpreted appropriately and so there is adequate time for the new procedures to be communicated to what in many businesses amounts to thousands of affected employees.”

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