Just as surely as the the sun will rise in the east and set in the west, personal injury lawyers in California will spend big in an attempt to influence lawmakers, elections, and regulators.
California’s personal injury lawyers spent more than $22 million on political contributions and lobbying lawmakers in Sacramento between January 2013 and June 2016, according to a newly-released statewide report from California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA).
The report shows why California is caught in an seemingly endless cycle of lawsuit abuse, earning it the dubious distinction of being ranked the number one “Judicial Hellhole” in the country. This didn’t happen overnight. Over numerous years and election seasons, these trial lawyers have contributed money toward ballot measures, political candidates, and lobbying efforts. Spreading money wide and deep, they’ve infected California’s policy-making process at every level.
Whether it is a candidate they want elected or a ballot measure they’ve written, the goal is to make it easier to file abusive and frivolous shakedown lawsuits against small businesses, school districts, physicians, and local governments. With their chosen politicians in place creating new opportunities to sue under California law, personal injury lawyers then ramp up the lawsuit machine.
Often through the use of sophisticated marketing firms, these attorneys utilize aggressive scare tactics (Stop Taking Your Medicine!) to recruit thousands of new plaintiffs, followed by an onslaught of lawsuits and demands for settlements. Armed with millions in new contingency fees, these lawyers plow that money back into political campaigns and lobbying – passing even more bad bills and killing common sense reforms that would stop the most abusive practices.
On and on goes the cycle of lawsuit abuse.
Since 2013, the biggest chunk of political spending has come directly from individual lawyers and law firms who gave $14 million to candidates and ballot measures. That makes these contributions hard to track, but we can consider these contributions as one giant political investment from the lawsuit industry made by their top earners.
Although contributions come from across the state, the bulk of it comes from the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Area markets. While they backed a variety of candidates, the lion’s share of payments went to Proposition 46 – a measure that would have expanded lawyers’ ability to sue for huge sums of money in medical lawsuits. Fortunately, this measure was defeated.
But the lawsuit industry is always conjuring up its next big payday, which is why the political contributions continue to flow.
As Election Day nears, we encourage all Californians to know who’s contributing to candidates for elected office and where these candidates stand on key issues. Do they support fairness and jobs for California, or fat paydays for personal injury lawyers?