Gov. Schwarzenegger: Legal Reform Helps Create Jobs

By January 13, 2010Briefly Legal, Economy

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed a “California Jobs Initiative” in his State of the State address last week, a legislative package he described in more detail at an event Monday in Torrance. The site was Ace Clearwater Enterprises, which manufactures complex formed and welded assemblies for the aerospace and power generation industries. (The company president is Kellie Johnson, a member of the NAM’s Executive Committee.)

The Governor’s plan is quite substantive, framed around these goals: To create 100,000 new jobs and train an additional 140,00 Californians; to streamline regulations to get shovels into the ground, extending the home buy tax credit; and to eliminate sales taxes on green-tech manufacturing equipment.

The fifth element — tort reform — is worth of special note given the efforts to block or even reverse legal reform in Congress. The fact sheet for the jobs initiative summarizes the section, “Reforming The Legal Climate For California’s Businesses”:

To foster an atmosphere where businesses can thrive, the Governor will propose a series of changes to regulations governing class action law suits, products liability suits and seek to cap punitive damage awards. Unfair and frivolous suits impact where companies locate or expand. California’s current litigation laws lead to large settlements with little value to consumers but become worth millions to lawyers at the expense of California businesses. Current statutes also impede growth by holding businesspersons liable for defective products – even if the seller had no knowledge or control over the defect – and allowing for punitive damage awards that are wildly unpredictable among similar cases.

The Governor will propose a set of statutory changes that will set forth clear guidelines for class action lawsuits improve California’s litigation climate by allowing defendants to appeal class action certifications and by requiring the plaintiff rather than the defendant to pay for notification to other potential class members. In addition, these reforms will provide for limitations on the scope of damages assessed against business persons for defective products and eliminate unreasonable and excessive noneconomic and punitive damages awards.

For more, see the the California Civil Justice blog, “Gov. Schwarzenegger Urges Legal Reforms to Improve Climate for California Businesses, and Dan Pero at, “Schwarzenegger to Fight for Legal Reform.”

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