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October 18, 2004

Legal Experts Set Record Straight On Deceptive Trial Lawyer Campaign

Analysis of misrepresented cases show Proposition 64 does nothing to inhibit consumer or environmental protection

SACRAMENTO -- Californians to Stop Shakedown Lawsuits (CSSL) set the record straight with a legal analysis of major consumer and environmental cases being misrepresented in the deceptive trial lawyer campaign against Proposition 64. The analysis shows that while Proposition 64 stops frivolous lawsuits by closing a loophole in California law that allows trial lawyers to extort millions from California businesses, it does nothing to inhibit environmental or consumer protection -- and there is not one case in which these protections would be prevented by its passage.

A memo authored by Trenton H. Norris, an environmental and consumer protection legal expert, and Partner with Bingham McCutchen, finds:

"Under Proposition 64, as in every other state, environmental and consumer groups will still be able to file a lawsuit on their own" if they show harm, or make claims using one of the dozens of existing state or federal environmental and consumer protection laws. Of the cases being cited by trial lawyer opposition, "Proposition 64 would not have prevented them, because:

  • people had actually been harmed;
  • governmental prosecutors and regulators also took enforcement action;
  • other laws were available (and in most cases, also utilized);
  • or some combination of these factors."

"The trial lawyer backed opposition has grossly misrepresented the facts in the cases they cite as examples -- a deceptive scheme to block real reform," said John Sullivan, President of Civil Justice Association of California, and Co-Chair of CSSL. "Proposition 64 simply stops legalized extortion -- and does nothing to inhibit environmental or consumer protection."

The memo also states "California is a national leader in lawsuits and a haven for attorneys who file lawsuits on behalf of 'the general public,' without being accountable to anyone -- not to the courts, not to the voters, not to even a single victim of the challenged practice."

"California is the only state in the nation with a loophole that allows trial lawyers to legally extort millions from business each year. Proposition 64 simply stops these abuses that are putting a drag on our state's economic recovery," said Allan Zaremberg, President of the California Chamber of Commerce. "California has among the strictest consumer and environmental protection laws in the country. Proposition 64 does nothing to change these protections."

Proposition 64 is a balanced approach to reform. It does not undermine California's consumer or environmental protection laws, and it does not change any of California's environmental or consumer protection laws.

Proposition 64 is supported by Governor Schwarzenegger and over a thousand taxpayers, non-profits and businesses.

Jean Munoz

Vote Yes on Proposition 64

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