Not very, fears Bruce Nye at Cal Biz Lit, who notes that “The Chanler Group, the self-described ‘Largest Proposition 65 Citizen Enforcement Law Firm,’ wasted no time in announcing its support for the Governor’s proposals.” Prop 65, of course, is the famous California enactment under which an army of bounty-hunters have set forth to file suits and collect settlements from California businesses for failing to warn of the carcinogenic or mutagenic ingredients in hundreds of common products, from matches (which emit carbon monoxide) to brass knobs to roasted coffee to grilled chicken to billiard cue chalk. Gov. Brown’s reforms omit several stronger recommendations, such as “moving the burden of proof to the plaintiff to show that exposures exceed the applicable no significant risk level (‘NSRL’) or maximum allowable dose level (‘MADL’).”
Most importantly, would the private enforcer bar support Assembly Member Gatto’s AB 227, allowing a company receiving a 60 day notice to avoid prosecution by curing the violation within 14 days? Or better still, Cal Biz Lit’s proposal to allow sixty days to cure violations?
Those measures would be real reform.
More: Amanda Robert, Legal NewsLine.
After the quarter-century disgrace that is Proposition 65 litigation — run by and for lawyers’ interests, with no discernible benefit to the health of the citizenry — you’d think California voters would have learned a thing or two. But unless poll numbers reverse themselves, they’re on the way to approving this fall’s Proposition 37, ostensibly aimed at requiring labeling of genetically modified food, whose main sponsor just happens to be a Prop 65 lawyer. I explain in a new piece at Daily Caller. More coverage: Western Farm Press; Hank Campbell, Science 2.0; Ronald Bailey, Reason (& Red State).
More: defenders of Prop 37 point to this analysis (PDF) by economist James Cooper, arguing that 37 is drafted more narrowly than 65 in ways that would avert some of the potential for abusive litigation. And from Hans Bader: would the measure be open to challenge as unconstitutional, or as federally preempted?
California’s Proposition 65 strikes again [Stoll]
Tom Scott in Flash Report notes that a specialized California bar continues to rake in substantial money suing businesses for alleged Prop 65 violations, such as failing to put warnings on their merchandise. Three named lawyers (Russell Brimer, Anthony Held, and John Moore) obtained attorney’s fees and costs last year in the $1.8 million-$2 million range after settling 61, 41 and 47 suits respectively.
Anthony T. (Tom) Caso at the Federalist Society’s “Engage” analyzes California chemical-warning law, long notorious for empowering entrepreneurial lawyers to file suits supposedly on behalf of the general public and then settle those suits for cold cash.
Several environmental groups say objects accessible to visitors at Disney parks, such as brass knobs, test positive for lead. “The groups filed suit against Disneyland in April based on a California law that requires businesses to post warnings when lead levels in fixtures and other items exceed certain levels.” Lead in brass and similar stable alloys is often regarded as posing little or no danger as compared with lead in more readily ingestible forms, but has nonetheless been swept in for similar treatment under various ill-conceived laws. [Orlando Sentinel]
“When consumers in California visit the Dunkin’ Donuts website hoping to order a bag of their favorite java, they are met with the following message: ‘Important Notice: We are temporarily suspending the shipment of orders to California while we work to comply with Proposition 65 with the State of California. We apologize for any inconvenience.’” Acrylamide, a compound naturally present in many roasted or cooked foods, is among the hundreds of substances that must be warned against under Prop 65, which has led, as we noted in May, to a lawsuit against more than 40 coffee companies. [TechNewsWorld] Author Vivian Wagner quotes me:
“The law empowers private litigants to enforce its terms without having to show that any consumer has been exposed to any material or substantial risk, let alone harmed,” Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, told the E-Commerce Times. “As a result, entrepreneurial law firms roam the state identifying new, often far-fetched, unwarned-of risks and extracting cash settlements along with promises to warn from hapless defendants.”
The latest surprising application of California’s toxic-warnings law [Ken Odza]
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has repeatedly delayed the implementation of the testing and certification rules required by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, the economics of which is likely to capsize many smaller producers. Now time may be running out for further extensions after the Feb. 10 deadline. [Rick Woldenberg, AmendTheCPSIA.com] Comments from affected parties are here.