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Proposition Counters Frivolous Lawsuits

August 19, 2004

Re "Suit Initiative Goes Too Far," editorial, Aug. 17: Since the rest of the country recognizes Los Angeles as the nation's frivolous-lawsuit capitol, it is unfortunate that The Times is buying into the claims of the trial lawyer groups that Proposition 64 goes too far.

Nothing is more infuriating to hundreds of Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce members than being slapped by a lawsuit over minor legal infractions by "plaintiffs" who have no direct association with the "defendant," let alone damages or evidence of harm. Lawsuit abuse is a major factor in businesses opting not to relocate to California and create jobs.

The balanced reforms of Prop. 64 will improve California's business climate by requiring that lawyers who file these ridiculous lawsuits actually have a client who can demonstrate monetary damages or physical injury by the alleged infraction.

It is one thing to go after individual businesses that have significantly violated consumer laws, but to prey on businesses that have done nothing wrong is nothing less than abuse of our legal system.

Since the Legislature declines to address this problem, voters should pass Prop. 64 and protect small businesses from these extortive lawsuits.

Christopher C. Martin

Vice Chairman, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

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