No on Prop. 37: Prop. 37 Will Trigger Flood of Lawsuits, Law Firms Warn
Grocer, Food Company and Ag Clients
Prominent national firms warn clients about "bounty hunter" lawsuits from
"another Prop. 65"
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 22, 2012
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- At least three major law
firms, with offices in California and worldwide, are warning their grocer,
food company, and farmer clients that if Prop 37 passes it will set off a
flood of lawsuits to the benefit of trial lawyers, much like Prop 65.
"Prop 65 has led to 16,000 lawsuits and close to $500 million in settlements,
much of which has gone directly to plaintiffs' lawyers for fees and costs,"
the firm Alston + Bird warned its clients. "Similarly, Prop 37 will likely
impact many California businesses and may create an atmosphere favorable to
private enforcers, leading to frequent litigation and settlements," the firm
said in a website posting "Is California set to pass another Proposition 65?"
A trio of respected national firms with large California clienteles are
bracing for the onslaught of lawsuits that will result from Prop. 37. They
have warned in client alerts and web pages dedicated to the measure's
potential impacts that it will expose grocery retailers, food companies,
farmers and others to predatory, shakedown lawsuits.
All three firms have years of experience defending against Prop. 65 lawsuits
and view Prop. 37 as possibly worse than Prop. 65.
Continued Alston+Bird: "The proponents of Prop 37 are the same plaintiffs'
attorneys that have been litigating Prop 65 since it was enacted by California
voters in 1986. It is highly likely that they will employ the same litigation
techniques and activities to enforce Prop 37 that they have used in Prop 65
these many years."
The author of Prop. 37, James Wheaton, also helped draft Prop. 65. Since 2000,
his law firm has raked in at least $10 million in settlements for filing Prop.
65 actions against businesses. Source: California Attorney General Annual
Summaries of Private Settlements.
Similar to Prop. 65, Prop. 37 allows trial lawyers to file a lawsuit against
any and everyone associated with any food product that does not have a label
-- even without a shred of evidence, testing or research showing the unlabeled
product contains GE ingredients. California's non-partisan, independent
Legislative Analyst concludes that Prop. 37 would allow trial lawyers "to sue
without needing to demonstrate that any specific damage occurred as a result
of the alleged violation."
Yes on 37 has attempted to deflect claims of a flood of shakedown lawsuits by
asserting that the measure gives grocery retailers and others sued an easy
"out" if they merely produce sworn statements that there was no "knowing or
intentional" use of GE.
This false claim is exposed in one of several "Client Alerts" on Morrison &
Foerster's Prop. 37 webpage designed to warn clients about Prop. 37.
"Accordingly, in order to take advantage of this exemption, the defendant
would first have to submit to discovery on the question of knowledge and
intent. In the context of Proposition 65, this is how plaintiffs' attorneys
have made their livings; the threat of expensive and time-consuming
discovery—depositions, interrogatories, document production, and more—drive
settlements that do little more than enrich bounty-hunting lawyers. Only if
the defendant could get past this hurdle would the sworn statement come into
play as an additional burden that must be met in order to establish the
On its website, law firm Downey Brand makes clear that the sworn statements
will hit everyone on the food production chain. "This sworn statement
exemption will set in motion a series of certifications and indemnity
agreements that will stretch from the grocery stores all the way back down the
chain of production to the nursery or seed company, and will require a sworn
statement from the farmer, the trucker, the packer, the processor, the
wholesaler/distributor, and finally the retailer. While this Proposition is
directed at the retailer, this exemption will mean that everyone in the food
supply chain will be responsible for compliance."
Nearly every single daily newspaper across California has urged voters to
reject Prop. 37 on November 6, including the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco
Chronicle, U-T San Diego, San Jose Mercury News, La Opinion and Sacramento
Bee. Many papers warn that Prop. 37 will be a boon to trial lawyers without
benefits to consumers. Said the Santa Cruz Sentinel: "And who would this
About Prop. 37
Proposition 37 would ban the sale of tens of thousands of perfectly-safe,
common grocery products only in California unless they are specially
repackaged, relabeled or remade with higher cost ingredients. Prop. 37 is not
a simple labeling measure. It will increase grocery bills for California
families by up to $400 a year, add more government bureaucracy and taxpayer
costs, will create a new way for trial lawyers to file shakedown lawsuits, and
includes loopholes and exemptions which make no sense. All of this without
providing any health or safety benefits. That's why Prop. 37 is opposed by a
broad coalition of family farmers, scientists, doctors, business, labor,
taxpayers and consumers.
Paid for by No on 37: Coalition Against the Deceptive Food Labeling Scheme,
sponsored by Farmers, Food Producers, and Grocers. Major funding by Monsanto
Company, E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)
and more than 40 food company members. For a full list of donors visit
www.NoProp37.com/donors. ● 1-800-331-0850 ● www.NoProp37.com
SOURCE No on Prop. 37
Contact: Kathy Fairbanks, 1-800-331-0850, email@example.com
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