Gino DiCaro

Assembly Committee approves attack on Confidential Settlements

By Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications

Capitol Update, May 6, 2005 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

The Assembly Committee on Judiciary approved AB 1700 (Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills) which is one of the most important and harmful civil justice bills of the last decade.  It's another attempt to prohibit confidential settlements and protective orders in litigation.

The bill dramatically changes current law to state that evidence of a "public danger" obtained during a legal process is presumed to be public information even if it was not used in a court proceeding.  This bill has some differences from previous versions, such as the inclusion of "substances" and "psychological harm" in the definition of "public danger." By bringing substances into that definition, the bill now could easily apply to an employee being exposed to various substances in the workplace. This new definition has allowed proponents to characterize the bill as environmentally friendly and necessary.

AB 1700 allows some level of protection for trade secrets, but it is proprietary information that may not rise to the level of a trade secret that may become public information under this bill. This is extremely dangerous for all companies with intellectual property and valuable proprietary processes and product designs.

It will be a long hard fight to stop AB 1700 on the Assembly Floor - but that is the next target.  CMTA urges all members to put AB 1700 on the top of their list.  Look for more information here and in the Corporate Counsel committee of CMTA.  Contact Matt Sutton at msutton@cmta.net for more information.

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