Calif. tort reform proponent to put $15 million in his campaign coffers

Chris Rizo Dec. 14, 2009, 12:01am

Steve Poizner (R)

Jerry Brown (D)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-A Republican candidate for California governor who has called for sweeping tort reforms will put $15 million of his own money into his campaign coffers.

State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, a Silicon Valley multimillionaire, will pour the money into his campaign war chest this month.

"We have a once in a generation opportunity to really fix and reform our state," Poizner said in a statement Sunday. "The Republican primary will be won based on which candidate presents clear, specific, and conservative solutions for solving California's economic problems."

With the planned $15 million infusion, Poizner will have pumped more than $19 million to his GOP primary race against former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman and former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell.

For her part, Whitman has infused her campaign with about the same amount of cash. She currently leads the Republican pack in polls and fundraising.

In the latest Field Poll, Poizner came in third, with support from 9 percent of likely voters, compared to 22 percent for Whitman and 20 percent for Campbell.

On the Democratic side, state Attorney General Jerry Brown, a former governor, is planning a possible run.

Leading Republican strategist Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California, said Poizner opening his checkbook sends a clear message.

"It puts the rumors to rest. Steve Poizner is definitely running for governor," Schnur wrote in a posting on the Republican political blog Flash Report.

Schnur said $15 million is "more than enough" to bankroll an advertising blitz that could put even with Whitman and Campbell by early next year.

Among other things, Poizner has called for tax cuts and the creation of a $10 billion rainy-day fund to help avert deep program cuts in future economic downturns.

On the legal front, Poizner says he wants to help employers in the Golden State spend their money on reinvestment and jobs creation, not defending lawsuits.

"Economic growth depends on a legal system that properly and efficiently compensates the injured and protects the blameless," Poizner said in a position paper. "A poor tort system, however, encourages profit‐driven litigation and leads to lower wages, less productivity and lost jobs."

Poizner says he wants to extend the cap the state currently has on medical malpractice cases to other types of personal injury cases.

The California Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975, signed into law by then-Gov. Jerry Brown, puts a $250,000 cap on non‐economic damages.

Poizner said the law has "reduced medical costs and deterred profit‐driven litigation while still ensuring full recovery and compensation for injured parties."

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

More News