A California State Assemblyman’s bill to change rules governing Proposition 65 litigation has passed in the California State Assembly.
Assemblyman Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) introduced (AB 1583) in February after he noticed an increasing volume of Proposition 65 cases being filed and had fielded several complaints from his constituents that own small businesses.
Assemblyman Chau’s bill would create a procedural change for individuals filing notices of violation under Proposition 65 that would make their claims more transparent.
California’s Proposition 65, requires non-exempt California businesses to post “clear and reasonable warnings” before exposing individuals to chemicals listed under Proposition 65 as known to cause cancer and/or developmental or reproductive toxicity.
Under Proposition 65, individual citizens and organizations may file notices of violations against businesses that allegedly fail to warn consumers or workers about potential exposures to chemicals listed under Prop. 65.
The statute provides that individuals or organizations filing notices of violation against non-exempt businesses must provide a certificate of merit to the attorney general’s office that certifies that the noticing party has sufficient evidence to support a claim that the alleged violator(s) failed to provide a required “clear and reasonable warning.”
Assemblyman Chau says that small business owners have been hurt the most by Proposition 65 enforcement cases. Chau explains he and his staff members took a close look at the impact of “bounty hunter” lawsuits on small business owners and determined that it was hurting small businesses in his district. He said he that a small number of unscrupulous lawyers are taking advantage of the fact that “these small business owners have no money to defend the lawsuits, so they have to settle them early on,” he said in an article that appeared in the Northern California Record.
The Assemblyman’s bill would change the rules that govern Certificates of Merit to make their contents discoverable to potential defendants which he contends would create an even playing field for alleged violators.
Assemblyman Chau says he is confident that recent amendments to his bill that would limit the amount of Proposition 65 cases filed will enable the measure pass in a floor vote later in the legislative session.