Lemon Law Attorneys Blog


Corporations Want to Make It Harder for California Consumers to Get an Attorney

December 7, 2021 by Karl Heil

Through ballot initiatives, automakers and other big businesses are trying to make it harder for consumers in California to get an attorney. Consumer protection laws like the lemon law allow consumers to recover attorney fees on top of their damages so that consumers can enforce their rights in court.

Without fee-shifting provisions, consumers would have to pay their attorneys out of pocket or out of the recovery, making it difficult for many consumers to enforce their rights. The ballot proposals would change the law by capping consumer attorney fees and preventing consumers from having their attorneys paid based on the time actually spent on a case. Instead, consumer attorney compensation would be arbitrarily limited regardless of the time spent on the case.

The proposed caps are so drastic that it might no longer be possible for consumers to have an experienced attorney represent them.  With corporations not limited in how much they could spend fighting a consumer’s claims, they could easily drag cases out for years and run up attorney fees.  Knowing that consumers’ attorney fees are capped and that their attorneys will have to do a lot of work for little return, corporations would undermine the fee-shifting provisions in consumer protection laws.

As a result, these initiatives will limit consumers’ recoveries, bargaining power, and access to the courts. Therefore, consumers are urged not to sign the petitions that would put these initiatives on the ballot. Instead, consumers should contact their state representatives and ask them to fight these proposals that limit consumer rights. You can find the contact information for your state representative at https://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/.

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