Prop 64: Limits on Private Enforcement of Unfair Business Competition Laws

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, September 24, 2004
According to John Sullivan, a long-time advocate of tort reform and President of the California Civil Justice Association, thousands of unfair competition lawsuits were filed by private attorneys in recent years, particularly in Southern California. CUT: Sullivan13 :13 Very small business owners, ethnic business owners, nail salons, auto shops, accusing them of wrong-doing that things that weren’t even wrong and in many cases things they hadn’t even done. Yet they were still extorting settlements from these people. Sullivan helped write Proposition 64, which would require that there be an actual plaintiff who has suffered real damage, before an unfair competition lawsuit could be filed. NO on 64 spokeswomen Carmen Balber says Prop 64 is really an attempt by BIG BUSINESS to deflect lawsuits that challenge its power to rip off consumers and despoil the environment. CUT: Balber18 :18 It has nothing to do with the small businesses who obviously were wronged and deserve the problem to be fixed. What it does have to do with is a bunch of big businesses that want to avoid accountability by the public and every major public interest organization in the state lined up to make sure that doesn’t happen. Balber challenges the central tenet of Prop 64 that only a plaintiff who has already been injured should be allowed to sue. CUT: Balber10 :10 It makes absolutely no sense to wait until someone gets lug cancer or a child gets asthma before we can stop an oil refinery for breaking California’s Clean Air Act and polluting the air. But according to John Sullivan, citizen actions can already be brought under other state and federal laws that don’t open the door to shakedown lawsuits. Governor Schwarzenegger and the state’s business community strongly back Prop 64. Yes on 64 contributions are funding a statewide saturation campaign of TV ads, while the NO on 64 effort has only a small war chest. SOC