The fight was won for non-economic damages to apply after death

Don’t neglect to take advantage of the new law

Nancy Peverini
2021 November

SACRAMENTO UPDATE

Despite another year of lobbying remotely due to the pandemic, CAOC had extraordinary legislative success. Once again, CAOC stopped every single bill to limit legal rights in consumer cases. Some highlights of 2021 include:

Court budget successes

Secured 200 million dollars in restoration to the courts.

Heavily lobbied for and secured an additional $60 million specifically allocated to aid the backlog for civil cases in the courts.

Conducted 73 successful grassroots meetings in a campaign for CAOC and CAALA members to meet with their legislators and inform them of problems and delay in their local courts due to COVID-19.

Legislative victories

Passed legislation over the California Medical Association’s opposition to ensure victims’ rights to non-economic damages do not die with them. (SB 447)

Led the push for technology in the courts and passed legislation over court worker union opposition to bring courts into the 21st century with remote technology. (SB 241)

Ensured product liability extends to online marketplaces by introducing AB 1182 and ultimately achieving a victory in the courts, holding Amazon strictly liable for selling defective products.

Achieved police illegal use of force reform by passing SB 2 to enact a decertification program for officers that violate the law and to remove three absolute statutory immunities for law enforcement.

Protected elderly nursing home residents by overturning Jarman v. HCR Manorcare, which limited residents’ rights to $500 per lawsuit instead of $500 per violation of each resident’s rights. (AB 849)

Enacted deadlines for minors’ compromise hearings to prevent reported delays of anywhere from six months to 12 months in hearing these motions. (SB 241)

Expanded anti-secret-settlement protections to apply to all forms of harassment or discrimination. (SB 331)

Expanded data breach protections to allow for a private right of action when genetic data is breached. (AB 825)

Supported efforts to require arbitration providers to produce invoices that clearly lay out cost, fees and due dates. (SB 762)

New CAOC-sponsored law takes effect

It is crucial that all attorneys immediately review the provisions of SB 447 as they may impact decisions on when to file, to dismiss and refile, and/or to seek a preference before January 1, 2022. In calculating deadlines, be sure to review Emergency Rule 9, the statute of limitations extension CAOC successfully advocated for in 2020 during the court closure.

Prior to CAOC’s legislation, California was one of a mere handful of states that prohibited non-economic damages from applying post death. Specifically, SB 447 states “In an action or proceeding by a decedent’s personal representative or successor in interest on the decedent’s cause of action, the damages recoverable may include damages for pain, suffering, or disfigurement if the action or proceeding was granted a preference pursuant to Section 36 before January 1, 2022, or was filed on or after January 1, 2022, and before January 1, 2026.” There is a specific provision on Elder and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act claims, stating, “Nothing in this section affects claims brought pursuant to Chapter 11 (commencing with Section 15600) of Part 3 of Division 9 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.” Further, attorneys who obtain a judgment will need to submit to the Judicial Council specified information. CAOC is working on a form that we will provide for this filing. The bill’s provisions expire in January 2026, so we will need to enact further provisions to extend the statute or delete the sunset in 2025.

Initiatives filed

In early October, four terrible initiatives aimed at the 2022 ballot were filed. One, sponsored by the New Car Dealers Association and backed by the California Chamber of Commerce and the Western Growers Association, guts private enforcement of suits brought pursuant to the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). The other three initiatives, all sponsored by the corporate-backed Civil Justice Association of California, limit contingency fees to 20 percent.

CAOC has already begun organizing against these anti-consumer initiatives and is actively mobilizing across the state. What can you do to help? Join leading consumer groups and our incredible attorney supporters in safeguarding access to our civil justice system with a donation to CAOC’s organizational and political efforts. To support our political efforts, go to https://seekingjustice-caoc.com. CAOC is taking these initiatives seriously, so keep tuned for our strategic plan.

Deregulation of the law

Finally, CAOC, working with CAALA, is taking lead to defeat the State Bar attempts to deregulate the law. The program as presented is fatally flawed. The concept that “someone is better than no one” unfortunately drove many decisions in the Working Group. If enacted, it will actually cause irreparable harm to consumers and damage public trust in the legal system. So, it is crucial that every single consumer attorney in the state submit a comment in opposition to this proposal and share this call for comments widely with your networks.

The deadline for public comments is January 12, 2022. Comments should be submitted using the online Public Comment Form found at https://fs22.formsite.com/sbcta/jkzblts9fd/index.html.

Thank you for your support of CAOC’s legislative and political programs.

Nancy Peverini Nancy Peverini

Nancy Peverini is Legislative Director of the Consumer Attorneys of California. She can be reached at nancyp@caoc.org.

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