SACRAMENTO - In response to numerous class action lawsuits of questionable merit, Assembly Member Donald P. Wagner, R-Irvine, introduced Assembly Bill 2043. This bill, identified as a "Job Creator" by the California Chamber of Commerce, brought California law into accord with Federal law by allowing both sides in a class action lawsuit the opportunity to appeal decisions of class certification. Unfortunately, this effort to level the litigators' playing field, create jobs, and make California more business friendly died in the Assembly Judiciary Committee yesterday on a straight party line vote.
Said Wagner, "California has one of the worst legal climates in the country. The state is already far behind many others and the federal government in granting defendants equal rights. The national government and those other states have figured out that we can have a functioning class action process and protect consumers without sacrificing the basic American value of fairness in our court system."
The bill is necessary because of the unfair disparity in state law between defendants and plaintiffs. There are numerous meritless class action lawsuits filed each year but, because only plaintiffs and not defendants can appeal decisions regarding class certification, defendants are often pressured into extortionate settlements by the sheer costs of continuing litigation. If allowed to appeal, like plaintiffs can, these meritless suits can be resolved without that pressure.
Concluded Wagner, "This bill would have helped California's business climate by restoring balance between the two sides in class actions. It also helped protect consumers from the economic costs of frivolous class actions, as they too are punished in the form of higher prices for goods and services. Instead, California's business community, our employers, will continue to be targeted as 'cash cows,' and consumers will pay the price for these hugely expensive legal processes as well."
Assembly Member Wagner represents the 70th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the Orange County communities of Irvine, Lake Forest, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Tustin and surrounding areas.