Big Victories in Sacramento for CAOC and Consumers
It has indeed been a very big year for the Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) in terms of statehouse victories, but more importantly, a huge victory for California consumers. CAOC successfully sent eight priority bills to Gov. Jerry Brown and he signed six. It is important to note that no other single group can claim such an impact or record.
Let’s take a look at the six areas in which new laws are going to make a tremendous impact thanks to CAOC’s advocacy:
- Protections for employees: SB 1241 addresses the problem of multi-state employers writing into their employment and arbitration contracts, rigid clauses that give them huge leeway in choice of law or forum. The new law, which will become effective Jan. 1, will now make it clear that these types of agreements are voidable at the option of the employee.
- Safeguarding seniors’ interests: Elder abuse is one of the most serious and outrageous issues we face today as a society. Many seniors and their families are victimized twice, once by the abuse they suffer in nursing homes and again by nursing homes involving arbitration clauses delaying justice for these victims. Effective July 1, 2017, seniors’ elder abuse claims will not be strung out for two to three years when a judge has denied a motion to compel arbitration. Under SB 1065, these appeals must be heard and finalized within 100 days.
- Protecting undocumented immigrants: AB 2159 will prohibit the introduction of a plaintiff’s immigration status in personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits. This will help ensure fair compensation for undocumented persons who were injured due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing.
- Preventing prescription drug abuse: The new law addresses the nation’s epidemic of overdoses caused by prescription drug abuse, and requires doctors to check the existing statement pharmaceutical database to curb doctor-shopping and other abuse. This was not essentially an issue tied to litigation. Its sole purpose is to prevent the horrible tragedies that are caused by opiate addiction and abuse.
- Charter bus safety: CAOC was also instrumental in passing legislation that ensures charter buses are safer. Effective 2020, there will be new safety and operating requirements on charter buses thanks to SB 247.
- Civil procedure improvements: CAOC’s AB 2427 adds two efficiencies to the Code of Civil Procedure. Section 1 allows legal heirs or representatives to access coroner’s photos of their deceased relative upon providing written authorization. Section 2 requires that materials, reports and writings of experts demanded prior to a deposition be produced not less than three business days before the expert appears.
Brian Chase, senior partner of Newport Beach personal injury law firm Bisnar Chase praised the work of CAOC and its supporters in getting these critical laws passed. H. Gavin Long, trial attorney at Bisnar Chase, is a member of CAOC’s Board of Governors.
“As the past president of this stellar organization and one of its officers, I’m extremely proud of the work we have been able to accomplish with regard to these important and necessary pieces of legislation,” he said. “All these laws aim at protecting those segments of our society that are most vulnerable and lack a voice.”
CAOC is an organization that needs the continued support of not just attorneys but from the people of California, Chase said.
“These are all laws that benefit consumers,” he said. “These laws are aimed at righting wrongs and at holding corporations, entities and others accountable for their negligence or wrongdoing.