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End run around Proposition 64?

Only months after California voters approved Proposition 64, reining in the state's bizarrely liberal s. 17200 law, some legislators in Sacramento are pushing what is characterized as an environmental-protection bill that critics fear will open up wide opportunities for s. 17200-style shakedown lawsuits. According to the Civil Justice Association of California's position paper, Assembly Bill 528

allows "any person with a beneficial interest" to sue a business to "enforce" a long list of code sections and related regulations, permits, and orders. This sets the stage for lawyers to file the same kind of "shakedown lawsuits" for minor violations alleging wrongdoing under more than 1,000 code sections addressing health and safety, water issues, air, agriculture, fish and game, etc. As was the case under Business and Professions Code Sec. 17200, no harm needs to be alleged. Worse than the old "17200," AB 528 would let a private lawyer extract civil fines, "restoration of the environment," and -- of course -- attorney's fees.

More: bill details, L.A. Times, Orange County Register editorial, Sierra Club arguments in favor of bill, CJAC press release on local government views. Update: Jonathan B. Wilson says the bill is dead for this session.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.