As the first half of the 2013-2014 legislative session comes to a close, it’s time to review what has happened so far. According to the Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC), there were over 2,500 bills introduced in 2013. Of those, Governor Brown signed 800 regular session bills into law and vetoed 96 bills. His vetoes of AB 527, SB 131, and AB 857 continued to show his concern over unwarranted litigation and costs to the courts.
He also signed the following bills, which intend to make important reforms to the legal system:
AB 227 (Gatto) – Reduces shakedown lawsuits against restaurants for failing to post Prop. 65 warning signs. It will also limit lawsuits if the exposure claim was over engine exhaust or smoking in designated places.
AB 417 (Frazier) – Limits CEQA challenges over approved bicycle transportation plans. CALA and groups like CJAC continue to support significant, reasonable CEQA reform that helps to not only streamline procedures, but limit lawsuits as well.
AB 58 (Wieckowski) – Makes doctors immune from lawsuits over consent issues when providing lifesaving, experimental treatment to a patient.
AB 633 (Salas) – Encourages Good Samaritans to provide assistance in emergencies while at work by limiting their liability and clarifying that an employer does not have to provide specialized training to his/her employees.
AB 635 (Ammiano) – Provides civil immunity to health professionals or other Good Samaritans who act in good faith and with reasonable care to provide an opioid antagonist to a person experiencing or suspected of a drug overdose.
SB 669 (Huff)- Provides civil immunity to first responders, pre-hospital emergency care individuals or Good Samaritans when they administer an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen) to a person suffering anaphylactic shock.
These bills are just a few examples of steps that both the legislature and the Governor have taken to tackle the issue of legal reform. As CALA has said in the past, trial lawyers do not check your party affiliation before they file a lawsuit. Legal reform isn’t and should not be a partisan issue – it is simply about creating jobs.
While California has a long way to go (it’s still the nation’s worst “Judicial Hellhole”), 2013 has shown that it is possible to pass common sense reforms. We applaud Governor Brown, the legislature, CJAC and even the Consumer Attorneys for finding middle ground and taking steps to stop lawsuit abuse. Let’s hope 2014 is as productive.