Aspen Claims Service

California’s Tort Wars Prevalent In Legislative Sessions

 Friday, February 3, 2023

 Santa Maria Times

Nothing is more pervasive in California’s Capitol than what have been dubbed ‘tort wars’ -- skirmishes over rules governing personal injury lawsuits.

No session of the Legislature is complete without at least one clash over who can sue whom for what act and collect damages that can potentially reach hundreds of millions of dollars.

Tort wars pit business and insurance interests against lawyers who specialize in personal injury lawsuits, often in alliance with unions and consumer and environmental protection groups. The battles are waged in courts and in ballot measures as well as the hallways of the Capitol.

A double-barreled showdown is imminent over a unique law called the Private Attorney Generals Act (PAGA), which authorizes private lawsuits to enforce California’s labor laws. Former Gov. Gray Davis signed the legislation in 2003, just five days after voters decided to recall him.

Its enactment was a big tort wars win for personal injury attorneys and labor unions, both of which had backed Davis in his unsuccessful fight against the recall. They contended that private suits were needed to fill a big void in state labor law enforcement.
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