Initiative Sponsors Falsely Claimed Measure Would Not Effect Consumer, Environmental, Public Interest Cases
Santa Monica, CA — Proposition 64, a ballot measure sponsored by corporations ostensibly to bar frivolous lawsuits, applies to legitimate cases, according to a California Supreme Court ruling today. The decision strikes a blow to consumer, environmental and other public interest cases that Prop. 64 proponents told the public would not be affected.
The court issued two rulings: In CDR v Mervyn’s the court ruled that Proposition 64‘s limits applied to cases pending at the time of the initiative’s passage. In Branick v Downey the court left open the possibility that plaintiffs in pending cases who are disqualified under Proposition 64 may amend their suits with a plaintiff that meets the new standing requirements. Download the decisions from the California Supreme Court website: http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/courts/supreme/
Proposition 64, passed on the November 2004 ballot, amended California’s consumer protection laws to eliminate the ability of public interest organizations to stop unfair, deceptive or illegal acts by a business using the Unfair Competition Law. During the election, Proposition 64 backers claimed that the measure’s only purpose was to protect “small businesses” from “shakedown lawsuits” and that “Proposition 64 will do nothing to dampen the enforcement of these important [consumer protection] laws.” Today’s ruling would apply Proposition 64 to legitimate consumer protection cases pending at the time of the initiative’s passage.
“Today’s ruling throws a roadblock in front of the legitimate public interest cases that Prop 64‘s donors promised would not be harmed,” said Carmen Balber with the non-profit Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR). “The ability of public interest organizations to represent the interests of California consumers and taxpayers has suffered a blow that can only be remedied by returning to the legislature to enact stronger consumer protections in place of those eliminated by Prop 64.”
Over 100 consumer, environmental and public health lawsuits pending when Proposition 64 passed now must be revisited. The cases include those involving medical privacy, unfair cell phone billing practices and dangerous drugs.
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