Frivolous ‘No-Injury’ Lawsuits Thrive in California
State ranked No. 3 among worst ‘Judicial Hellholes’ in nation with residents paying $1,900 per year in ‘tort tax’
California was named the third-worst “Judicial Hellhole®” in the country today, according to a new report from the American Tort Reform Foundation (ATRF).
“California is plagued by serial plaintiffs and their lawyers who file boilerplate, no-injury lawsuits that nitpick technicalities and abuse the legal system,” American Tort Reform Association President Tiger Joyce said. “Unfortunately, while trial lawyers often collect millions, their clients may receive mere pennies.”
One type of prevalent no-injury lawsuit in California falls under the state’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). ATRF says the law was intended to protect workers, but instead it’s created a system so stringent that work environments are forced to operate in strict adherence, meaning employees actually lose flexibility in their work lives.
The Judicial Hellholes® report cites Proposition 65 as another favorite tool of the state’s trial bar – a law unique to California which originally intended to protect consumers from harmful chemicals.
“Prop-65 has become so expansive that its warnings are practically meaningless to consumers, now,” Joyce said. “While it may be comical to see things like a door handle in California claim to be a possible carcinogen, it can be especially burdensome for small businesses without the in-house expertise or means to add the necessary warnings or handle the very real litigation and costs that result from this out-of-control law. The money companies spend on compliance and litigation unnecessarily drives up the cost of goods for all California consumers.”
This year to date, California businesses have settled 642 claims and paid out $13.9 million, with plaintiffs’ lawyers receiving 88.2% or $12.2 million.
Further, accessibility lawsuits are yet another litigation arena in which ATRF reports that serial plaintiffs are filing no-injury lawsuits. California is home to more than half of the nation’s accessibility lawsuits.
“Opportunistic and predatory trial lawyers target mom-and-pop shops with few financial resources, and specifically small-business owners who speak English as a second language,” Joyce said. “While the trial bar has plenty of alarming tactics, preying on immigrant-owned businesses who may not fully know the ins and outs of the U.S. legal system is especially egregious.”
California’s penchant for filing no-injury lawsuits is driving up costs throughout the state.
With inflation costs at an all-time high, Californians pay a “tort tax” of more than $1,900 per person each year while nearly 750,000 jobs are lost annually due to excessive tort costs.
The 2022-2023 Judicial Hellholes® report also cites increased abuse of the state’s lemon law, climate change litigation, novel COVID-19 liability, and expanding consumer protection liability as additional reasons for the state’s ranking.
ATRF makes sure to note that California’s drop in the rankings from last year’s No. 1 has nothing to do with progress made in the state, but instead reflects how poorly things are going in other states’ civil justice systems.
The 21st edition of the annual report published by ATRF names eight Judicial Hellholes® in total, deemed the most unjust local courts and state civil justice systems in the country:
- The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas
- New York
- Cook County, Illinois
- South Carolina Asbestos Litigation
- St. Louis
The full report is available at JudicialHellholes.org.