Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Some of California's Largest Cities and Counties Spent More than $1 Billion on Litigation from 2008-2012

California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA), a nonpartisan grassroots movement advocating for legal reform, today released a report calculating that just 17 of California's 482 cities and 58 counties spent more than $1.09 billion on lawsuits over a four-year period from 2008-2012.

These exorbitant costs came during an era of harsh budgets at the local level in which revenue fell sharply and public services were slashed. Since January 2010, three cities in California have filed for bankruptcy and several other cities and counties remain on the edge of solvency.

"Unscrupulous attorneys and plaintiffs treat public sector budgets as a coffer to be raided and file abusive lawsuits against local governments seeking a quick payday," said Tom Scott , executive director of CALA. "It is unacceptable for cities and counties to continue to pay out-of-control legal costs while vital social service and public safety programs face budget cuts."

The report examined the cost of verdicts, settlements and outside counsel to some of California's largest cities and counties, and did not take into account the cost of in-house counsel and other administrative costs associated with the enormous number of lawsuits facing cities and counties.

In the four fiscal years examined in the report, several lawsuits delivered large and unpredictable verdicts against local jurisdictions, throwing budgets out of balance. For example, in 2012, the City of Anaheim settled a lawsuit for $400,000 after a man was wrongfully arrested for killing an opossum - $100,000 for each hour he was detained.

While some cities and counties are taking steps to fight back against abusive lawsuits and are saving taxpayer dollars as a result, the cost of lawsuits continues to be a burden on city and county budgets.

"The legal system is intended to provide justice for those who have been injured, not to enrich a handful of plaintiffs and their attorneys," said Scott. "Until California's legislature passes meaningful legal reforms that create balance in our courts and remove the incentives that encourage lawsuit abuse in the first place, high litigation costs will likely continue to plague California's city and county budgets."

The report can be viewed on CALA's website.

California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to educating the public about the negative effects of lawsuit abuse and challenging those who abuse our legal system for personal gain.
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