Trial lawyers in California filed more than 300 cases and banked nearly $12 million in fees in 2011 alone alleging violation of Proposition 65, an initiative approved in 1986 that requires those ubiquitous warning signs at businesses where minute quantities of specified chemicals that are potential carcinogens or reproductive toxins are present.
There is some hope, however. Last year, at the request of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a bipartisan bill was passed and signed into law that will help address California’s problem with abusive lawsuits alleging violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act. While this new law won’t completely curb abusive ADA lawsuits, it is a small step forward. Additionally, California’s Supreme Court ruled this year that employers must make meal and rest breaks available to their employees but not ensure that their employees take such breaks.
This year, we heard our candidates for the state Legislature talk quite a bit about the need to create jobs in California. The recent ranking of the state as the nation’s worst “judicial hellhole” should remind them how abusive lawsuits hurt California’s businesses and give them additional impetus to vote for the legal reform our state so badly needs.
David Houston is the owner of Barney’s Beanery Restaurants in Los Angeles and co-chairman of California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse.