PAGA expansion bill will also increase lawsuits

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Aug. 22, 2008 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

As we creep towards the end of the legislative session, a bill to provide further incentive for frivolous lawsuits under the private attorney general statute awaits action by the State Assembly.  If passed, SB 1113 (Carole Migden, D-San Francisco) would authorize a court to award costs, including expert witness fees, to a successful plaintiff party in any action that has resulted in the enforcement of a right affecting public interest.

Section 1021.5 of the Civil Code already provides courts the authority to award plaintiffs attorneys’ fees in actions to enforce rights deemed important in the public interest.  This particular code section has unfortunately provided incentive for some plaintiffs to use the statute to pursue meritless and frivolous litigation. Those who must defend themselves against these lawsuits must bear the cost of their own attorneys’ fees, even when the lawsuit is ultimately found baseless.

By adding expert witness fees and costs to the list of what already may be recovered under existing code, SB 1113 provides further reward for plaintiffs in such actions, while, again, providing no similar cost recovery for defendants who are found innocent.

Further one-sided expansion of Section 1021.5 is imbalanced and inequitable.

SB 1113 will be heard on the Assembly floor soon.

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