State Senator Bob Huff
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 30, 2013
CONTACT: Bill Bird, (916) 651-4029
Senate Committee Torpedoes Job Creation Reform
Democrats Reject Huff Bill to Limit Frivolous Class Action Lawsuits
SACRAMENTO: Legislation designed to limit the number of frivolous and costly class action lawsuits that drive up consumer product costs and depress economic and job growth has been voted down in the Senate Judiciary Committee. SB 737, authored by Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar), sought to change the way class action lawsuits are litigated in California by giving equal opportunity to both parties to appeal the decision of class certification.
“Current law regarding class action lawsuits is essentially a jobs program for high-priced attorneys,” said Senator Huff following today’s hearing. “California is fertile ground for class actions because it favors attorneys over businesses and their customers. We need jobs and new job creation, not more frivolous lawsuits.”
“Certification” in a class action lawsuit allows a few plaintiffs to bring an action on behalf of countless others, whereby alleged infractions result in huge settlements or judgments even though the offense may be negligible. If the lawyer bringing the lawsuit tries to get a class certified and does not win, he is then allowed to appeal that decision to a higher court.
However, the reverse is not true: Current California law does not allow the business owner being sued the same right to appeal the judge’s decision. The only recourse a defendant has is to litigate the entire case. As a result, most class actions settle outside of court regardless of the merit of the case.
This lack of fairness contributes to California being identified as the No. 1 “Judicial Hellhole” in the latest report of the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA). ATRA states: “These class actions primarily benefit lawyers with large fees at the expense of consumers.”
“California has one of the worst unemployment rates in the nation and our state has been ranked the worst state in the nation to do business for 8 years in a row,” said Senator Huff. “Much of this anti-business and anti-consumer attitude stems from laws encouraging and supporting litigious activity even when it’s not appropriate.”
SB 737 had the support of the California Chamber of Commerce, Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA), Civil Justice Association of California, California Association of Health Facilities, California Restaurant Association, California Apartment Association and numerous local organizations.
Senator Huff serves as the Senate Republican Leader and represents the 29th Senate District covering portions of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino Counties. Follow Senator Huff on Twitter at @bobhuff99.