What do you get when a former State Senator and a trial lawyer team up? Possibly one of the worst potential initiatives to come along in quite some time. And yet, that is exactly what former State Senator Steve Peace and San Diego trial lawyer Michael Thorsnes are pushing. (You may recall that Senator Peace co-produced and co-wrote the 1978 cult classic, “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.”)

On August 2, they submitted a request to the Attorney General’s office for the California Personal Privacy Initiative. Their proposed initiative would add new privacy protections to the state constitution and more specifically, it would establish standards for the collection of personal information by government and commercial entities.

Once the proponents have the circulating title and summary they can begin setting up in front of local businesses to gather the 807,615 (needed by 2/14/14) signatures that will be required to place this on the Fall 2014 ballot. Considering the subject matter, and the recent news on breaches of privacy involving the NSA, this should not be too tough for them to accomplish. Add in the fact that most people do not read initiatives before they sign a petition, and this could easily make for one ugly ballot battle next fall.

What particularly caught my attention is the involvement of a trial lawyer in drafting the initiative. Call me a cynic, but when trial lawyers start writing ballot measures, one should pay close attention. Need I mention 1986′s Proposition 65 or in 2012’s Proposition 37? Both of these initiatives included provisions incentivizing huge amounts of litigation, and in the case of Prop. 65, we’re still struggling to stop the shakedown lawsuits that it produced.

In the proposed Title and Summary of the initiative, one paragraph in Section Two in particular caught my attention: “Harm to a natural person shall be presumed whenever his or her confidential personally identifying information has been disclosed without his or her authorization.” In other words, harm is assumed whether there is harm or not. When the actual language is printed for circulation, it will be interesting to see if it will call for a private right of action under the enforcement section. Every time private enforcement is included in a new law, a cottage industry of trial lawyers emerges to begin filing shakedown lawsuits. With language that broad, a trial lawyer would have to be an idiot not to try to find someone to sue.

I certainly understand that people are concerned about their privacy. Any time you see a plaintiff’s attorney involved in a ballot initiative, however, you should definitely question their motives. The last thing California needs right now is more lawsuits. We’re already known as the worst “Judicial Hellhole” in the nation, and our business legal climate is ranked among the worst in the nation. What we need is jobs, not lawsuits.