Trial lawyers defend taxpayers – no, really!

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

Here’s a case that could make a proper conservative’s
head explode.

Conservatives loathe trial lawyers who pursue class
action cases that shake down businesses and stifle innovation.

Conservatives also despise politicians and
bureaucrats who increase taxes without regard to fairness, impact or even
legality.

On Monday, matter and anti-matter met at the
California Supreme Court, when the justices – led by Ming Chin – ruled that taxpayers could aggregate into classes
to fight illegal taxes levied by local governments. The Court stated that where
state law does not spell out procedures for seeking individual refunds of an
illegal tax, then a class action remedy is appropriate. Such was the case with
the contested Los Angeles telephone tax.

With the public treasury now even more vulnerable to
assault by trial lawyer, will elected officials and their government union
allies fight class action proliferation? It’s probably too early to tell, but Bob Egelko of the San Francisco Chronicle reports
what may be the prevailing view:

"(Peter) Keith, the San Francisco (deputy city
attorney) who filed arguments on behalf of cities and counties statewide, said
local governments face difficulties defending themselves against taxpayer class
actions that typically involve small sums collected by third parties, like
hotels and utilities, from large numbers of customers."?

Such a
sentiment sounds depressingly familiar to businesses and employers who
regularly sit at the receiving end of class action lawsuits.

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