Recently, the American Association of Justice (AAJ), the national association of plaintiff’s lawyers, held its annual national convention in San Francisco. Unfortunately, these lawyers weren’t interested in growing our economy or creating jobs. With several of their sessions focused on lawsuit creation, it’s obvious they’re interested in just one thing: lining their own pockets by manipulating laws to further incentivize litigation from which they profit.
That’s why California CALA supporters were on the ground in San Francisco, telling attendees at the convention that we need to create jobs, not lawsuits. We distributed copies of The Lemon, a satirical newspaper pointing out how lawsuit abuse hurts the economy, to conference attendees and met with small business owners in San Francisco neighborhoods who had been victims of abusive lawsuits. To get our message out even further, our chairman submitted commentary to the San Francisco Business Times.
Californians have already seen the results of trial lawyers’ efforts to expand the opportunities for and payouts from litigation: huge numbers of abusive lawsuits filed against small businesses, including through Proposition 65 and California’s laws enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Despite the noble goals of each of the laws, trial lawyers have taken advantage of loopholes, including provisions that allowed them to rake in enormous fees by filing shakedown lawsuits against California’s small businesses.
These lawsuits have a chilling effect on economic growth. According to Alston + Bird LLP, a prominent law firm, Prop. 65 has resulted in more than 16,000 lawsuits and more than $500 million in settlements since it was passed. And Lawyers Against Lawsuit Abuse estimates that there have been somewhere between 25,000 and 35,000 ADA access lawsuits filed in California in just the past few years. Every dollar a business spends defending itself against a warrantless lawsuit is a dollar it can’t spend investing in more jobs that boost the local economy.
California already has one of the worst legal climates in the nation. The trial lawyers know it and are continuing to expand opportunities for abusive litigation in the Golden State. The next time 5,000 trial lawyers want to party, I wish they would look to another state to visit.