San Diego Area Taxpayers are Paying Millions in Lawsuits

San Diego City and County spent more than $36 million in two fiscal years

SAN DIEGO, 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.

The City of San Diego spent $32.5 in verdicts, settlements and outside counsel in these fiscal years and the County of San Diego spent $3.7 million during this time.  Not only are these costs outrageous in their own right, but the City of San Diego could have paid the salaries of 282 firefighters with the money spent on litigation in just one year.

"For years, the City has been an easy target for some attorneys”, said San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.  “We're fighting back and no longer paying on marginal lawsuits.  Where a lawsuit legitimately has merit, we want to resolve it. But, if it is marginal they better be prepared to go to trial and then get out their checkbooks because they will end up paying us."

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 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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