Product Liability: New Efforts To Establish "Government Standards Defense"

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, March 17, 2006 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Manufacturers whose products meet government standards should be pleased with two efforts underway to limit punitive damage claims.

SB 1429 (Morrow) would establish a "government standards defense"  against punitive damage claims related to products subject to federal or state government approval or products that meet government specifications. Additionally, a ballot initiative being circulated would accomplish the same goal. The initiative campaign, "Californians for Sensible Lawsuit Reform", is aiming for the November 2006 ballot.

Neither the initiative nor the bill would limit the ability of a claimant to recover full compensation for medical costs, lost wages, and other economic damages, as well as pain and suffering compensation.

Legislation to limit punitive damages in this way has been defeated before, thus the decision to go directly to the people through the initiative process.  The successful effort to limit the abuse of Section 17200 "Unfair Competition Law" in Proposition 64 in 2004 shows that Californians do not support  frivolous lawsuits and are willing to reduce the opportunity for claimants to use the risk of high jury verdicts to force large settlements in advance of trial. 
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