On November 2, 2004, Californians voted 59.1% to 40.9% to stop extortion lawsuits being brought by private lawyers under the state’s unique Unfair Competition Law. The victory came after a carefully crafted, $14.5 million campaign funded by an unusually broad spectrum of the business community whose members had been victims of shakedown lawsuits for years leading up to the election.
Newspaper editorials ran 4 to 1 in support of Proposition 64, with at least 29 newspapers urging their readers to vote “yes.”
The victory came after years of unsuccessful efforts by the Civil Justice Association to persuade the Legislature to stop the abuses under Business & Professions Code Sec. 17200. The powerful plaintiffs’ lawyer lobby, who for years denied that the law was being used to extort settlements, blocked bi-partisan attempts at reform.
In the fall of 2001, the CJAC Board of Directors initiated a research and drafting project that methodically explored options and built support during the many months leading up to the November 2004 statewide election.