Justice Killers
Each year, the corporate tort machine introduces scads of bills intended to undercut the rights of California consumers. We call them “Justice Killers.” Here are this year’s worst.

Immunity for Utilities that Cause Fires  In the aftermath of the Wine Country fires of 2017 that killed 44 people in Napa and Sonoma Counties and destroy nearly 9,000 homes and structures, PG&E is making a concerted push in the statehouse and media to pass legislation stripping California utilities of their legal responsibilities to homeowners and public entities harmed by their conduct. No bill number has been announced. 

AB 2429 (Caballero) Sponsored by the Civil Justice Association of California, this bill guts law governing policy-limit demands. allowing insurers to string out the settlement process endlessly. It would require “strict compliance” with all settlement demand terms, or the demand can’t be used to prove bad faith, and also requires that a time-limited settlement demand in a personal injury claim remain open no less than 60 days from when the insurer receives it.

AB 2353 (Frazier) Restricts the ability of homeowners to sue for latent construction defects to five years and is aimed at protecting builders such as those whose negligence caused balcony rot which led to the death of five Berkeley students.

AB 2016 (Fong), AB 2907 (Flora), SB 1443 (Stone) All three bills limit claims brought under the Private Attorney General Act, an important legal tool to combat wage theft and other illegal labor activities by employers. AB 3050 (Flora) Another “spot” bill, AB 3050 limits negligence claims against public entities when their negligence kills or harms a consumer.

AB 2440 (Acosta) A “spot bill” aimed at limiting “joint and several liability,” a legal doctrine that simply says that when someone has been victimized by persons found guilty in a court of law, the primary concern must first be making that victim whole, then allowing guilty parties to work out payment between themselves.

AB 2651 (Kiley) Sponsored by the California Defense Counsel, amends the current time frame for summary judgment motions to be filed to benefit defense counsel.

AB 2770 (Irwin) Sponsored by the California Chamber of Commerce, this bill changes the standard for privileged communications to shield employers from liability for communicating false information to prospective employers that would otherwise be defamatory.

AB 2793 (Kiley) Sponsored by the Civil Justice Association of California, AB 2793 weakens the legal rights of asbestos victims.

AB 2773 (Acosta) A “spot” bill intended as a vehicle for limits on attorneys fees. Its intent is to allow big corporations to pay hundreds of dollars per hour to the corporation attorneys but to limit what an injured party can contract with her attorney, putting the consumer at a legal disadvantage.

AB 2482 (Voepel), AB 2484 (Voepel), SB 524 (Vidak), SB 1188 (Stone) and SB 662 (Berryhill) All five bills restrict the legal rights of workers and change long time employee protection statutes.

AB 3050 (Flora) This bill limits claims against public entities when their negligence results in death or injury to citizens.

AB 3217 (Berman) Sponsored by the Civil Justice Association of California, this bill restricts advertising by attorneys but with no restrictions on advertising by big PHARMA.