SACRAMENTO – After a nearly 40-year career in California law and politics mainly fighting against personal injury lawsuit abuse - followed by a peaceful retirement - former Civil Justice Association of California president John Sullivan died Feb. 20 at age 73.
"John was a gentleman and a scholar," current CJAC President Kim Stone told the Northern California Record. "He was polite, appropriate and professional. He didn’t turn fights with our legislative opponents into personal attacks."
Stone was originally hired by Sullivan as a lobbyist, promoting her twice in the organization and supporting her succession of him as president upon his retirement in 2010.
He headed the CJAC, originally known as the Association for California Tort Reform, from 1995 to 2010, mainly focusing on protecting California businesses from frivolous lawsuits. He even twice co-sponsored bills in 1996 and 2000 that expanded protection against such lawsuits.
"He oversaw the passage of Proposition 64, an initiative to end shakedown lawsuits, when trial lawyers were suing small businesses for minor or technical violations of California’s overly rigid unfair competition law," Stone said.
Sullivan worked his way up the California law scene after having started as a reporter. Upon receiving his law degree, he started his legal career by becoming a staff member of the California Taxpayers Association. An interest in fly fishing led to him being named chief deputy director of the Department of Fish and Game in 1992, holding that position until 1995 when he became president of the CJAC.
Upon his retirement in 2010, Sullivan settled into private life, pursuing his interests in both fly fishing and auto racing. He also became an enthusiastic beekeeper, always ensuring his friends had plenty of honey from his hives.
His funeral services were held on March 5 at Carmichael Presbyterian Church.
Neither the organization he ran for so long, nor his tireless efforts against frivolous lawsuits, will die with him, Stone said.
"We continue to fight for justice, fairness and balance in the civil justice system," she said.