Fresno Area Taxpayers are Spending Millions on Lawsuits

Litigation Impacts Fresno City & County to the tune of $10.6 Million

FRESNO, Calif. – California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) today released a report finding eight of California’s largest cities and nine of its largest counties spent $504.1 million to deal with lawsuits over two fiscal years.

CALA looked at monies spent on verdicts, settlements and outside counsel in fiscal years 2007 and 2008 for the counties of: Alameda, Fresno, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, and Santa Clara and the cities of: Anaheim, Bakersfield, Fresno, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, and San Jose.

“California has 58 counties and 480 cities, so this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Tom Scott, CALA Executive Director. “With devastating budget cuts hitting cities and counties up and down the state, there are countless other ways this money could have been spent.”

The County of Fresno spent $2.7 million in verdicts, settlements and outside counsel in these fiscal years and the City of Fresno spent $7.9 million during this time. Not only are these costs outrageous in their own right, the money spent by the city in just one year could have funded 75 cameras and supporting equipment for a new video policing program, the Mayor’s Gang Task Force for Prevention and Intervention Services, and the Stamping Out Graffiti program. The County could have paid for three psychiatrists for the Mental Health Division of Children and Family Services, and six detectives for the Sheriff’s Department.

“The city of Fresno is facing $28 million in budget cuts for next year and I doubt reigning in litigation costs is on the table,” said Tracy Leach, CALA Central California Regional Director. “People are going to lose their jobs and many will see vital services cut back or eliminated. Why can’t dealing with litigation costs be part of the overall solution?”

The information compiled in the report came from public information requests of the localities. CALA released a similar report two years ago finding that three cities and four counties spent more than $276 million in litigation costs for fiscal years 2005 and 2006.

“Citizens of California deserve to know where their tax dollars are going. Budget shortfalls don’t just affect those who might lose their jobs or services they rely on, the effects ripple to the entire community and beyond,” Scott said. “That’s why CALA is calling for greater disclosure, more public oversight and adoption of aggressive risk management procedures to protect our local government coffers from the greedy hands of plaintiffs’ attorneys.”

The report can be found in its entirety here.

California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) is a nonpartisan, grass-roots organization dedicated to educating the public about the negative effects of lawsuit abuse and challenging those who abuse our legal system for personal gain.

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