Group says Calif. SC decision causing confusion

Jessica M. Karmasek Mar. 3, 2011, 10:28am

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline) - The president of the Civil Justice Association of California is asking the state Supreme Court to consider making certain rulings prospective only, pointing to a recent decision by the court.

CJAC President Kim Stone said in a statement released Wednesday that the association also wants the state's high court to allow a brief period of time for parties to implement the Court's ruling.

The CJAC's request comes in response to the 76 lawsuits that were filed as of Tuesday against a variety of businesses following the Court's Feb. 10 ruling in Pineda v. Williams-Sonoma, Inc.

The Court, in its ruling, said merchants cannot request customers' zip codes during transactions.

"The fact that this case went to the Supreme Court shows that there was a great amount of confusion about the law in question. We are concerned by the idea of holding a business liable for actions that were taken before the courts had made a final decision on what the law means, particularly when that business was not even a part of the case," Stone said.

"Our concern is not with the Court's interpretation of the law. In this case, however, both the trial court and the appellate court had actually ruled in favor of the defendant prior to the Supreme Court's ruling in favor of the plaintiff, which is further evidence of the uncertainty surrounding the law."

Now, the CJAC argues, the businesses that have been sued will have to spend significant time and money defending themselves for actions that, at the time, they thought were legal.

"Thus, we would respectfully request that in future cases of a similar nature the Court consider limiting the liability that results from its ruling to future violations only," Stone said.

"We also believe it would be reasonable, given how quickly suits were filed, for the Court to consider allowing affected parties a brief period of time to implement the ruling so that it can be interpreted appropriately and so there is adequate time for the new procedures to be communicated to what in many businesses amounts to thousands of affected employees."

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