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Bill to Weaken Liability Law

February 18, 1996

One of the many laws the state Assembly recently has voted to repeal or amend is the Corporate Criminal Liability Act (CCLA). As the author of that 1990 legislation, which Gov. George Deukmejian signed into law, I offer these observations regarding "Lungren Assailed for Bid to Scrap Liability Law" (Feb. 8).

The law targets only corporate officials whose actions or omissions pose a substantial risk of serious injury or death to workers or consumers of their company's products. The final amended language of the CCLA was proposed by the California Manufacturers Assn. and the California Chamber of Commerce, who now favor AB 675, a bill that would substantially weaken the law. These leading business organizations withdrew their opposition to my bill in 1990 when I accepted their alternative version, which apparently they now reject.

The main argument made against the CCLA is that it would "chill" business activity in California. Is there any evidence of this having occurred during the past five years the law has been in effect? It might be difficult to advance the theory that the law is bad for business at the present time when California is in fact enjoying significant job growth. Prosecutors have been exceptionally careful in charging violators of the law. There have been only five prosecutions under the CCLA since its adoption, hardly an excessive number.

TERRY B. FRIEDMAN

Monterey Park

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