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Plaintiff Paradise

Apart from having higher taxes, absurd housing costs and more regulations than nearly any other state, California’s wacky laws have turned the Golden State into a venue of choice for activist groups to file costly class action lawsuits...

Then there is the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). A well-intentioned law to curb the damaging effects of development has mutated into a monster. Almost anyone can file a CEQA lawsuit against any project they dislike; plaintiffs win half of the cases they enter, and when they lose, they do not need to cover defendants’ legal fees (the reverse does not apply).

  Builders are compelled to hire expensive unionised labour to ward off union bosses’ threats of spurious CEQA suits. Shops and petrol stations file cases to prevent competitors from opening up.

-The Economist Go To Site

The Los Angeles Times notes that a group called California Unions for Reliable Energy "has filed dozens of environmental lawsuits that can delay construction of power plants, only to drop its objections once favorable labor agreements are secured."

  CEQA appeals are also a favorite tool of the not-in-my-backyard crowd, used to block affordable housing, rail lines and other development meant to make cities more livable. Go To Site

Many lawyers make a business practice of filing hundreds of nearly identical lawsuits, often with a view of making a quick settlement against small business defendants.

  Too frequently, these lawsuits are designed to be so difficult to defend that business defendants have no practical choice but to pay the few thousand dollars in settlements these lawyers seek...

  In California, it can cost as much as $100,000 to $500,000 or more to aggressively defend a lawsuit through trial.

-Lawyers Against Lawsuit Abuse, APC Go To Site

Liberal, Crime, Government, Incompetence, Character, Financial, Greed, Law, Theft

George Louie is a West Sacramento man who has sued hundreds of Northern California cities and businesses for failing to comply with the federal Americans with Disability Act. This week, Yuba City announced it has agreed to pay Louie $15,000 to leave the city and its businesses alone for good. "He's agreed not to file ADA lawsuits in our city, period," said Darin Gale, Yuba City's economic development manager. "There's no timetable, it's forever."... Louie's lawsuits targeting local governments and small-business owners have usually ended in out-of-court settlements in his favor, because the cases are expensive to fight, said Cris Vaughan, a Loomis attorney who has defended dozens of clients against Louie's lawsuits.

Liberal, Crime, Government, Incompetence, Character, Financial, Greed, Law, Theft

Court records show Sullivan has filed at least 70 lawsuits since 2006. Sometimes he'll hit one particular area hard, like downtown L.A.'s Toy District. Court documents filed by Sullivan show 14 lawsuits in a 12-block area, all filed within three days. Court documents allege he visited 14 stores on the same day - Jan. 22, 2010. Two weeks later, Sullivan filed 11 more lawsuits in the Jewelry District on same day... At least six store owners got a letter from the small claims court commissioner as part of the judgment in their favor. The letter reads, "The court is convinced that Mr. Sullivan never really sought to patronize the stores, but instead went from store to store with a video camera to document the problems with access for a lawsuit."

Liberal, Crime, Government, Incompetence, Character, Financial, Greed, Immigration, Law, Theft

Alfredo Garcia, a paraplegic who has been in a wheelchair since 1996, is a serial plaintiff. The 41-year-old illegal immigrant and convicted felon makes a living suing small businesses in Southern California for allegedly violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and its California equivalent. His days are spent going from business to business looking for violations like a bathroom mirror or a paper-towel dispenser that's too high. Garcia did not want to talk to Eyewitness News about the more than 500 lawsuits he's filed.

Liberal, Government, Financial, Greed, Law, Theft

One plaintiff, he says, has filed more than 1,000 ADA accessibility suits alone. California, along with Hawaii, Illinois and Florida, is a particular hotbed for ADA lawsuits and the law firms that bring them to court. "California may be the worst in the country," says Peters, citing several factors for potential abuse, chief among them two California statutes that provide $1,000 or $4,000 in minimum damages, plus attorney fees, per each successful claimant. Many claimants multiply these damage amounts by the number of conditions they observe at a property. This frequently results in $50,000 or more in damage demands, says Peters.

Liberal, Character, Financial, Greed, Law, Theft

In 2010, a state court judge in Los Angeles was critical of a serial plaintiff who had sued a restaurant for non-A.D.A. bathrooms. Under cross-examination, he admitted he made his living suing businesses. "Plaintiff said he goes out to places and is 'lucky' that he finds a (structural) barrier," the judge noted in her ruling, her incredulity seeming to jump off the page.

Apart from having higher taxes, absurd housing costs and more regulations than nearly any other state, California’s wacky laws have turned the Golden State into a venue of choice for activist groups to file costly class action lawsuits — or to launch anti-corporate PR campaigns against big, wealthy targets like Nestle.

  In recent years, Nestle has faced two such activist-led actions, both spurious: One involves allegations that Nestle improperly documented its anti-slave-labor policies. Not that it employed slave labor, it just didn’t document it online.

-Terry Jones, IBD
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