SACRAMENTO, Calif., October 6, 2021—The Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC) today submitted two statewide initiative proposals for the November 2022 ballot to ensure injured consumers receive more of the compensation they deserve and that they receive it sooner.
“California’s current legal system puts the interests of trial lawyers ahead of injured consumers entirely too often,” said Kyla Christoffersen Powell, president and CEO of CJAC. “The reported theft of multi-millions from injured consumers by celebrity trial lawyer Tom Girardi, which recently came to light, and decades of failed oversight by the State Bar of California demonstrate that trial lawyers cannot be trusted to self-regulate their fees.”
The ballot measures CJAC submitted today aim to prevent unethical lawyers from taking advantage of vulnerable, recently injured consumers by making them sign away 40 to 50 percent of their recovery, a common practice with contingency fee agreements.
The first measure, the “Consumer Legal Fee Protection Act,” will limit lawyers from taking more than 20 percent of their injured client’s award. Since 1946, the federal government has applied a 20 percent cap on attorneys’ fees in settlements of cases filed against it. Adopting this ample percentage in California preserves the ability of consumers to find high-quality lawyers, while being protected from excessive fees.
The companion “Pre-Lawsuit Notice and Opportunity to Settle Act” creates a common-sense step for parties to spend 60 days trying to resolve their dispute before filing a lawsuit.
If their dispute is not resolved during the 60 days, consumers can file suit, but lawyers’ fees will be limited to no more than 20 percent of the amount recovered in court.
“Lawsuits are expensive and can take years to resolve. This proposal puts the focus on consumers getting their recovery sooner and paying lower legal fees,” said Christoffersen Powell.
Under the current system, some lawyers are incentivized to file unnecessary lawsuits and delay resolution so they can run up their fees with no added benefit to their clients. This is why there are often cases where the attorney fee award is more than the injured client’s recovery.
CJAC has twice been the proponent of statewide ballot measures to improve the state’s civil justice system, and both were overwhelmingly approved by voters.
To view the ballot measures submitted by CJAC today, visit www.cjac.org/ballot.
The Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC) has been a trusted source of expertise on legal reform for almost half a century. CJAC confronts legislation, laws and regulations that create unfair litigation burdens on California businesses, employees and communities.