SACRAMENTO – Californians who want to speak out against lawsuit abuse still have time to sign up for California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse and California Civil Justice Association Day at the Capitol on Tuesday, March 15.
"We will pair them with legislators so they can get their points across and their legislators can hear directly from constituents," California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse Executive Director Ken Barnes told the Northern California Record. "It's better for legislators to hear directly from their constituents instead of just guys like us, in suits, walking along the corridors and knocking on their doors all the time."
So far, more than 200 small business owners have signed up for the event at the state capitol to encourage lawmakers to provide relief from lawsuit abuse and to push for legal reform.
Small business owners are especially vulnerable to abusive lawsuits because they often find it more cost-effective to settle even frivolous lawsuits rather than fight them, officials with both organizations said. This sets up an ugly cycle in which very savvy and predatory litigants file lawsuits for financial gain instead of because they were wronged and are seeking justice.
California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse especially works to fight class-action lawsuits in which attorneys often reap financial benefits while plaintiffs are left with little or nothing when the case is settled or goes to the jury. The organization is watching several lawsuits that may well end up changing this present system, including a case set to go before the California Supreme Court, Laffitte v. Robert Half International Inc. This case, depending on how it transpires, could change attorney pay in class-action lawsuits from a percentage to an hourly wage.
The need for tort reform seems readily apparently and legislators rank among those most receptive to recommendations about crafting laws to change the present legal climate, Barnes said.
"One thing I have found over the years is that legislators and legislative staff are some of the easiest people to work with," Barnes said. "That's their job, what they're there for."
The March 15 event is designed to get constituents in touch with legislators, of whom almost 100 have already agreed to participate.
In addition to recommending ideas for new tort reform, constituents also have the opportunity to suggest support, or not so much, of a number of legislative efforts already in the works. These include provisions under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the California Environmental Quality Act.
The event is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on the south steps of the California State Capitol. Barnes is expected to offer some remarks, as is Civil Justice Association of California President Kim Stone. Also expected to be on hand are Assemblyman Don Wagner (R-Irvine), who is vice chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee; Andrew Rausch, an ADA Reform Initiative Proponent and a San Diego attorney; Jesus “Chuy” Garcia of Chuy’s Market, Riverside; Vince Passanini of Santa Fe Importers, Long Beach; and Travis Hausauer of Squeeze Inn, Sacramento.
Anyone who would like to participate or more information may follow this link.