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July 18, 2006



The problem that I see with these ADA and Prop 65 shakedowns is that they all provide for 'citizen enforcement' or 'bounty hunting' (tame terms for what it actually is). In theory, 'citizen enforcement' sounds quite benign but in practice is it a means which unscrupulous scammers and their(use the adjective of your choice) attorneys abuse so that they can go after people or entities who are basically unaware of the 'laws' or 'infractions' or in most cases... really, the "enforcer's interpretation of the law". Then they take some of the outrageous 'per violation' amounts (which were probably designed to attack people who break a law on purpose) and multiply it by some huge number of 'violations' and say something like do you want to litigate over that or pay us this smaller amount.

Gee, maybe I'm old-fashioned but I kind of like to believe that when I give money to someone I should be receiving goods and/or services which to me are equal or exceeding in value to what I have paid. Without that occurring thoughts of the Mafia, terms like extortion, etc come to mind.

I am really amazed that in this country, the United States Of America... that something like this can exist with the blessing of our various lawmakers regardless of their party affiliations etc. This is just plain reprehensible and it causes innocent people to be ripped off and in some cases, irreparably financially harmed. For every "Justice Sills" there are way too many who lack Justice Sills' common sense. I can only assume that there are financial or other reasons that could sway otherwise competent lawmakers from facing the reality of this 'citizen enforcement racket'. We pay taxes, we entrust these people to see that justice prevails... but yet we have to list a decision like that of Justice Sills as being newsworthy due to its rarity. Someone described his action on the Prop 65 reversal as "common sense" when it is in fact... "rare sense". Sadly so, for every shakedown that is 'caught' so many others get away with it... which just attracts more and more scammers like these ADA scammers who cannot even distinguish one victim from another because they sue so many it's all a blur. As bad as that is... it's only worse that our Attorney General, our Senators, our Governor.... see that and rubber stamp it as OK. In fact our Senators actually fight to block national legislation which could help to clean up some of this (S. 3128 for example).

My recommendation to everyone who is not knowingly or intentionally doing anything wrong who gets targeted by so-called "citizen enforcers" is that you fight them and let it go to trial. The term 'trial lawyer' is also a curious term; most so-called 'trial lawyers' are in fact 'settlement lawyers' and in some cases some of them probably go to a 7-11 store more often than they go to trial. If they take these flimsy claims to a court with a jury... the chances a jury would vote in favor of shakedown plaintiffs is very very slim.

The message to 'citizen enforcers' and their attorneys who prey on the unaware and corner them into settlements while claiming to be doing so 'in the public interest' is quite simple: If your motivation comes from a deep-down desire to get a lot of money, why not find something that the public WANTS, make it available, make people happy, and make your fortune that way instead. Apologize to those who have been harmed by your actions and refund them their settlement money and their attorney's fees. If you really care about the public as you claim you do... post your findings on the internet, write out the exact text that warnings should contain, and send a mass-mailer to retailers, distributors, manufacturers, and parent companies with all of your explanations, parameters, and how the law relates to them. Do it free of charge; fund it with past earnings or with donations from environmental and health organizations and private parties. Make it so that people who want to be in compliance have the right to do so... and you'll be surprised what a world of good you'll do. You just won't get rich doing it but at least you can have some self-respect!

General Contractor Insurance

It is a sad day when "professional plaintiffs" ruin the good intentions of the ADA.

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