As we’ve argued before, the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) is a harmful law that fills the pockets of trial attorneys at the expense of California’s small businesses.
Even the slightest violation of the state’s over 1,100 page labor code could result in a hefty settlement amount for the trial attorney on the case. Meanwhile, the employee bringing the suit typically receives a much smaller payoff, and the targeted business could face immense financial distress after legal fees and settlement costs.
The bottom line? Far from empowering employees, PAGA is designed to keep cash flowing directly to unscrupulous trial attorneys.
Despite all this, California’s legislators don’t seem interested in enacting any meaningful reform. That’s why the California Business and Industrial Alliance is suing the state. (See the latest updates from our lawsuit here.)
A look at political donations from trial lawyer advocacy groups might explain why so many of our politicians are disinterested in altering the status quo on PAGA.
Consider the Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC), a known advocacy group for trial lawyers. CAOC’s most recent available lobbying budget was close to $5 million dollars. And there’s a handful of Political Action Committees (PACs) spending money on the group’s behalf.
One affiliated PAC, the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles PAC, spent $68,000 in political contributions last year, and has spent $43,000 so far in 2019.
CAOC’s “Consumer Protection Fund” spent almost $23,000 in candidate contributions this year, and $38,400 in 2018. The group’s “Issues PAC” spent over $100,000 between 2017-2018, including $25,000 on an initiative in Arkansas that would have limited attorney fees awarded in civil lawsuits.
CAOC’s Independent Campaign Committee and its general PAC are some of its top spenders. The committee spent $704,000 in contributions between 2017-2018. (You can see everyone who got a piece of the pie here.) The PAC also spent $325,000 in contributions during the last cycle.
Consumer Attorneys of California*
The California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA) is another group responsible for political advocacy on behalf of trial lawyers. CELA’s budget may not match that of CAOC — it was only about $853,000 in the most recent year available. But the group still spends thousands on lobbying each year, making itself a useful ally for plaintiff attorneys. Class Action Plaintiff Finder, a website we’ve exposed before for it its shameful business model, is even a sponsor of CELA.
California Employment Lawyers Association*
While these trial attorney groups are spending big to keep their members at the top of the food chain, businesses throughout California are getting eaten alive by frivolous lawsuits.
One thing’s for certain: It’s time for a new status quo in Sacramento.
*Charts are taken from campaign finance data filed with the California Secretary of State.