Proposition 64

    For those fed up with frivolous lawsuits that continue to hinder legitimate legal claims, Proposition 64 may seem like exactly what California needs. However, voters must be careful not to allow frustrations with greedy trial lawyers to shape their vote on a truly flawed bill that has been designed to favor big businesses.

    If passed, this measure would make it more difficult for environmental advocates and consumer watchdogs, like the California Public Interest Research Group, to sue companies that violate the state’s unfair competition laws. Instead, the proposal would limit enforcement powers to bureaucrats, such as the state attorney general, who often work to further their own political goals first and protect the general public second.

    Backers of Proposition 64 hope that the public’s antipathy for trial lawyers will mislead voters into supporting this corporate giveaway. And clearly they have found a source of popular discontent, as few would oppose a broad tort overhaul. Certainly, the current state of civil litigation is hurting many Californians and creating substantial costs for taxpayers. However, Proposition 64 ignores judicial initiatives already in effect that are meant to curb unfounded legal actions, from summary judgments that filter frivolous suits out of the system in their early stages to rulings that require those who file these suits to pay all legal expenses of both sides.

    If voters are truly interested in tort reform, they must look at the causes of the problem, not its symptoms. The way to reduce frivolous lawsuits is to pass legislation that gets rid of incentives for lawyers to file them in the first place by limiting the amount they can collect in fees, not by restricting the rights of citizens.

    Vote “no” on Proposition 64.

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