Gino DiCaro

AG's bounty hunter bill fails

By Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications

Capitol Update, Aug. 18, 2006 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

A bill by Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny (D-San Diego), SB 1489, that could have forced companies that are sued by the Attorney General (AG) to pay all costs of investigations, expert witnesses and attorney's fees whenever the AG "prevails" failed passage on the Assembly floor. It only garnered 23 affirmative votes, falling far short of the 41 needed for passage.

One of the most glaring deficiencies of the bill is that it lacks a definition for the term "prevails".  This provides an enormous settlement advantage for the AG because the term has been loosely defined by the courts to include settlements, any change in operation by a defendant or even a miniscule monetary award.

For several years, the AG's budget has not been funded, via the budget process, in a way the office feels is adequate. SB 1489 represents an end-run around that budget process.

Additionally, the bill has very weak limitations on the ability of the AG's office to contract out with private attorneys. SB 1489 would create a dangerous precedent where defendants could be the funding source for the AG's office, thus creating a conflict between choosing worthy cases and choosing cases that only have the potential to augment the AG's budget.

While SB 1489 failed passage on the Assembly floor this week, the author is permitted to have the bill reconsidered two more times prior to the August 31st end-of-session deadline.

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