Calif. Supreme Court Rules Prop 64 Applies to Pending Cases

July 25, 2006

The Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC) in Sacramento applauded the California Supreme Court for applying Proposition 64 to lawsuits that were pending when the initiative overwhelmingly passed in November 2004.

“Today’s unanimous ruling has put an end to the remaining shakedown lawsuits by lawyers who were looking for one last attorneys’ fees payoff,” said John H. Sullivan, CJAC president. “The law is clear that from the day voters spoke, lawyers needed a client who had been harmed in order to pursue this kind of lawsuit.”

“The Supreme Court’s decision ensures that the voters’ decision to end shakedown lawsuits is upheld,” said Fred Hiestand, CJAC general counsel, who filed amicus briefs in the Proposition 64 cases before the court on the pending issue. “This is the finale for those lawyers who attempted one last bite at attorneys’ fees from settlements or court awards.”

“Hundreds of businesses are at last free from this extortion threat,” Sullivan said. “No one who actually lost money or property had an interest in this decision; such cases were not affected by Proposition 64. Today’s ruling dealt with cases that were of, by, and for the trial lawyers.”

Key provisions of Proposition 64 include:
– Requiring an attorney who files a lawsuit to have an actual client who has been harmed or suffered financial injury. It is this provision that was at the core of the Supreme Court’s decision, CJAC said.

– Protecting your right as a consumer to sue someone if you have been harmed or damaged.

– Allowing only public officials (the attorney general, district attorneys and some city attorneys) to file lawsuits on behalf of the “general public.” And dedicating more funding to their efforts.

In applying its decision, the court looked at
Californians for Disability Rights v. Mervyn’s, S131798.

Source: CJAC

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