The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights recently issued this press release. It is enlightening. Voters were lead to believe that Proposition 64 was all about helping small business owners avoid extortionist "shakedown" lawsuits from unethical attorneys.
Never mind, for a moment, that the shakedown lawsuit movement was brief and ended badly for the shakedown artists, such as the Trevor Law Group (none of whom are still practicing attorneys). Focus, instead, on who was really behind the proposition, what they hoped to do, and whom it will affect. As Deep Throat used to say, "Follow the money."
The most interesting set of facts in the press release pertain to some of the pending cases that Prop 64 donors are hoping to win under the new law. Hrere are eight of the more interesting ones, the amounts donated, and the allegations of the suits:
1. Privacy Rights Clearinghouse v Albertsons (California Grocers Association donated $352,000) Defendant illegally gave patients' medical data to drug makers.
2. Consumer Advocates v. DaimlerChrysler (Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers donated $1,500,000) Defendant broke more than a dozen provisions of California Lemon Law.
3. Krumme v Mercury (donated $50,000) Defendant's private insurance brokers falsely claimed to be independent agents for customers, but were really on Mercury's payroll.
4. Diaz v Fresno Dodge (donated $9,800) Defendant car dealer concealed financing fees from buyers.
5. California Consumer Health Care Council v Aetna ($25,000) Defendant insurance company falsely told medical malpractice victims they had waived their right to jury trial.
6. Utility Consumers' Action Network v SBC, UCAN v Cingular Wireless, Woods v Cingular Wireless (gave $35,000) Defendant wireless providers accused of deceptive advertising regarding international calling rates; charging international rates for domestic calls; and unilaterally changing contract terms.
7. Jones v Citigroup (gave $100,000) Defendant bank concealed charges to credit card customers.
8. Goodwin v Anheuser-Busch / Miller Brewing Co. (gave $125,000) Defendant beer sellers marketed products to minors.
These corporate defendants, accused of significant breaches of the public trust and/or safety, raised more money than the side looking out for the individuals. As a result, the pro-64 sides' lies were ineffectively rebutted. People thought they were voting to stop unethical lawyers from ripping off the good hard-working people in the small business community. Instead, they gave big corporate interests, crooked car dealerships and other lawbreaker the equivalent of a get-out-of-jail free card.
The next time a client comes to me and says "I just want to make sure that they can't do this to anyone else, ever again," I will have to tell that client that the law doesn't do that any more. The people voted against it.