Cal. AG hears it from business on state's lawsuit culture

Legal News Line Oct. 16, 2007, 9:40am

Tom Donohue

SAN FRANCISCO -- U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue sharply criticized California's litigation climate and its impact on the state's economy in a speech delivered today. Donohue told the audience at the all-day forum "Litigation in California - It's Everybody's Business" in San Francisco that the Golden State lagged badly in corporate America's legal rankings. The audience included California Attorney General Jerry Brown. Donohue's speech stressed that some of the Golden State's more notorious legal tactics are harming the state's competitiveness. He pointed to courts in San Francisco and Los Angeles in particular as havens for class action suits, especially those from beyond the Golden State. "California has become a breeding ground for frivolous lawsuits, excessive damage awards, and abusive trial lawyer and prosecutorial tactics," Donohue said. "This is hurting the economic competitiveness of the state and our nation." Donohue also pointed to examples indicating that the California legislature "is not serious about legal reform," such a recently-vetoed law to give the state 75 percent of punitive damages awards. He also noted that California jury awards are growing larger and that Brown has threatened lawsuits against a range of entities. "[W]e respectfully suggest that [Jerry Brown] should be vigorously upholding the law and protecting due process rights, rather than trying to make new law and new policy by threatening to take companies and counties to court," Donohue told the audience.

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