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Press Release

    California: Get the 17200 Reform Initiative Petition

    03/23/2004

    Talking Points for the 17200 Reform Initiative Petition

    • There is a legal loophole in California law that is letting personal injury lawyers file shakedown lawsuits and demand attorneys' fees from California businesses even though no law has been broken, no one has been injured, damaged, or mislead, and no consumer or other business has asked a lawyer to file a lawsuit!

    • Despite overwhelming evidence of shakedown lawsuits against small businesses across the state, the Legislature adjourned September 12 without enacting any laws to stop frivolous 17200 shakedown lawsuits. Personal injury lawyers blocked every legitimate reform attempt.

    • As a result, the coalition drafted an initiative that provides common sense reforms to close the major loopholes in the law that have permitted unscrupulous lawyers to prey on California’s small business owners.

    • The initiative ensures continued protection for consumers from unfair competition and deceptive advertising, but reforms the law to eliminate shakedown lawsuits by private fee-seeking lawyers without clients.

    • The initiative would:

     Require an attorney who files a lawsuit to have an actual client who has been harmed or suffered financial injury.

     Protect your right as a consumer to sue someone if you have been harmed or damaged.

     Allow ONLY public officials (the Attorney General, District Attorneys and some City Attorneys) to file lawsuits on behalf of the “general public.” And it would dedicate more funding to their efforts.

     Require lawyers that want to represent big groups or the public at large to go to court as they do in every other state and seek certification of a legitimate class action lawsuit.

    Volunteer Petition Circulator Instructions

    • Only registered voters may sign a petition. Be sure to ask if the person is a registered voter.

    • Any California resident eligible to register to vote may collect signatures and sign the petitions as a circulator.

    • Circulators must personally witness all signatures. Please don't leave petitions unattended on a counter, for example. Someone must be present to witness all the signatures on that petition and sign as the petition circulator.

    • Each petition form may include signatures from only one county. Multiple petitions may be necessary if you are gathering signatures at events attended by voters from multiple counties or if you receive a large number of visitors from different counties. You will need to write the name of the county in the blank provided on the petition.

    • It is not necessary for the circulator to be a resident of the same county in which the petition signers reside.

    • A petition is valid even if it only has one signature. Not all the signature blocks need to be filled in.

    • The circulator's declaration must be filled in for the petition to be valid and should be signed AFTER the signatures are collected by the person who circulated the petition.

    • Please note that it is a misdemeanor to:

     Use the signer's information for any purpose other than qualifying the petition;
     Misrepresent the contents, purpose or effect of the measure;
     Make a false statement in response to an inquiry from a potential signer;
     Prevent a potential signer from reading the petition;
     Pay a signer for his or her signature;
     Obscure the summary of the measure;
     Refuse to return a section to the proponents.

    • All information must be filled out in the signers and circulators own handwriting. You cannot fill in information for a voter, and no stamps or labels are acceptable. Initials are not acceptable.

    • Signers must include their street addresses or the signature won't count. Post office boxes may not be used as a residence address.

    • Employers must not coerce their employees to sign or circulate petitions.

    • Do not separate the signature page from the body of the petition. The petition is four pages long, and must be kept intact at all times.

    Download these instructions or petition order forms at www.stopshakedownlawsuits.com. You can also order petitions by calling (916) 677-5591.

    Petitions must be received by April 10, 2004. Please ship to:
    National Petition Management, Inc.
    7401 Galilee Road, #450
    Roseville, CA 95678

    PAID FOR BY CALIFORNIANS TO STOP SHAKEDOWN LAWSUITS, A COALITION OF TAXPAYERS, AUTOMOBILE DEALERS, BUSINESS GROUPS AND CIVIL JUSTICE REFORM SUPPORTERS INCLUDING CALIFORNIA MOTOR CAR DEALERS ASSOCIATION FUND TO STOP SHAKEDOWN LAWSUITS COMMITTEE AND ALLIANCE OF AUTOMOBILE MANUFACTURERS, INC.