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The Campaign for Proposition 51

May 23, 1986

I am simply appalled at the reprehensible and utterly inaccurate advertising now being aired by the opponents of Proposition 51, the "deep pockets" reform initiative.

This advertising, paid for by trial lawyers--the chief opposition to Proposition 51 --insinuates that Proposition 51 supporters such as the Girl Scouts, the State PTA, physicians, every county and virtually every city are somehow in league with "murderers, rapists and toxic polluters."

That is nonsense. The California Medical Association, along with many of the more than 100 major statewide organizations supporting Proposition 51, is on record as a strong OPPONENT of toxic waste and cancer-causing agents. In our role as physicians, we have constantly fought for stronger laws protecting the public from all kinds of medical hazards, from cigarette smoking to toxic waste. To suggest we are linked with murderers and polluters is an affront to every one of us.

Proposition 51 is a modification of the ridiculous "deep pocket" law--nothing more nor less. It makes no special allowances for any group. If anyone--toxic polluters, cities, counties, even attorneys--is found responsible for someone's injuries, he will have to pay. No one gets off the hook. Proposition 51 merely apportions responsibility fairly for the noneconomic part of the settlement. A city found 1 percent responsible would no longer be required to pay 100 percent of the cost.

What Proposition 51 will do, however, is save taxpayers millions. That comes not from me, but from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's summary which will appear on the ballot and in the voter pamphlet.

California's 5400 trial lawyers are the only Californians who will not benefit from passage of Proposition 51. They have shown their willingness to do or say anything to defeat it. We believe the voters will pass judgment on the bankruptcy and selfishness of their arguments on June 3.


San Francisco

Dr. Elliott is president of the California Medical Association.

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