Critical consumer legislation passed this year due to our collective efforts
In thinking about the challenges consumers face each year with proposed legislation that would gut consumer protections and chip away at fairness in the civil justice system, along with the tremendous success by CAOC, local TLAs and individual trial lawyers in ensuring consumer rights are protected, I couldn’t help but draw a contrast to the movie, A Perfect Storm.
In the film, George Clooney, despite being an experienced fishing boat captain, refused to heed the advice of weather experts who explicitly warned about the perils that a coming storm would bring. Instead, he set out late in the season with his boat and crew, and no viable plan for surviving the epic storm. Sorry for the spoiler alert, but to make a long story short, he blew it. His ship sank, and he and his crew were lost.
The moral of the story? It’s always wise to have a plan in place to steer your vessel to safety. Moreover, going it alone in uncharted and dangerous waters isn’t often in your best interest or the best interest of those in your care.
I’m proud that as trial attorneys we stick together. We design plans that will lead consumers to greater safety and swifter justice through fair legislation. Then, with the strength of our crew, and CAOC serving as our captain, we successfully steer key pieces of legislation through the storms our clients and consumers face.
One such piece of legislation is SB 241, co-sponsored by CAOC, which was signed into law by Governor Newsom. SB 241 protects Californians’ ability to access the courts remotely, as we continue to battle COVID-19.
As CAOC’s own Nancy Drabble so eloquently stated, “SB-241 is critical legislation that will protect Californians from being forced to choose between their health and access to justice.” Indeed, as a unified organization, CAOC recognized that the enormous backlogs in the courts were causing far too many Californians to suffer from delayed justice. CAOC sought input from attorneys on the challenges our clients faced. Together with our legislators, we designed a plan and successfully navigated it through to law, ultimately keeping Californians safe by maintaining ongoing remote access to the courts.
Likewise, as a unified crew, we succeeded in sponsoring SB 477, which was signed by the Governor just weeks ago. SB 477 allows for a decedent’s non-economic damages to survive their death. This bill covers personal-injury and employment claims. However, there are a few caveats to note because of deadlines affixed to them.
SB 447 provisions apply: if the action or proceeding was granted a preference pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 36 before January 1, 2022; or was filed on or after January 1, 2022, and before January 1, 2026.
To avail your clients of the benefit of this important law, you may need to seek preference from the court ASAP for cases with plaintiffs eligible for a C.C.P. § 36 preference, to ensure it is granted before January 1, 2022. Otherwise, you may want to consider the pros and cons of waiting until the New Year to file.
I’m proud of CAOC, and I’m proud of each of us as individual attorneys for banding together as a crew, with a plan in place to protect our fellow Californians. The future success of these endeavors is wholly dependent upon our collective continued support of CAOC’s legislative program – working tirelessly to protect Californians against legislation that would create further inequities in our justice system in favor of corporate entities and otherwise delay or deny justice.
Cynthia Craig is a Partner at Kubota and Craig. Ms. Craig is experienced in personal injury including auto accidents, premises liability, government liability, dog bite, wrongful death and traumatic injury cases.
Ms. Craig has served on the Board of the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association since 2006 and currently serves as President. In 2013, Ms. Craig was awarded Board Member of the Year, for outstanding service, dedication and leadership. She also serves as a member of the Board of Governors of the Consumer Attorneys of California, and a member of the Board of Directors for the Banyard Inns of Court.
In 2014, Ms. Craig was awarded the Inn’s Angelo Palmieri Civility Award for maintaining the Legal Profession’s Highest Tradition of Professionalism and Civility.
by the author.
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