Apparently you can’t. So far this year the Assembly Judiciary Committee has blown bills containing legal reform out of the water like sitting ducks. I’m not sure what it will take for the Legislature to embrace legal reform, but the evidence that lawsuit abuse is costing California jobs is mounting.
This past Sunday in The Sacramento Bee, Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants headquartered in Carpenteria wrote anop-ed about what California has to do to add jobs and make this state prosper once again. He laid out the question of whether California is a smart place to expand your business considering the tax, regulatory and legal climates or if it is smarter to just head to Texas. If you have not read it, you should. It should be required reading, especially for our Legislators on the Judiciary Committee.
What was more surprising is that he said in the 10 years he has been a CEO, he has never received a call from one of California’s Governors. It seems like the only time he spoke to a Governor was when Governor Perry of Texas called him to thank him for expanding the number of restaurants in his state. The Governor also asked what it would take to move CKE’s headquarters to Texas.
So now that he is pondering shifting his operations to Texas, Governor Brown, Lt. Governor Newsom and Legislators are calling. However, the Legislature keeps ignoring legal reform as a priority. Puzder has wasted $20 million defending his company against trial lawyers over things like wage and hour class actions. That is $20 million that is not going to hiring new workers or expanding CKE in this state.
Puzder said that for the past two years he tried to reach out and talk to state officials about his concerns, but was either brushed off or told there was not the political will for change. Seriously folks, it is time to start listening. I understand that the trial lawyers over the past decade have dumped more than $33 million into elected officials pockets, but this stagnation has got to end. We need our leaders to start listening to the people who are creating jobs and driving the economy.
When I first started in CALA, a gentleman with a large company told me that until a CEO gets that litigation affects the bottom line, things will never change. Well, now you have one who gets it and wants people to listen and do something about it. Is that really too much to ask for?
So far this year all the focus is on the budget. Well, even when we get a balanced budget, we are still going to have one of the worst legal climates in the United States, which will continue to make it harder for businesses to grow and hire more people.
Stop playing kick the can on legal reform and do something. Minimal reforms on class actions, wage and hour laws, ADA and Proposition 65 would start moving us in the right direction. Remember, bad lawsuits cost good jobs.
Cross posted at www.cala.com.