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California Senate Passed Bill To Stop "Death Discounts" For Corporations

Posted by Renée Yvonne Gardner | May 03, 2021 | 0 Comments

Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) is a professional organization of plaintiffs' attorneys representing consumers seeking accountability against wrongdoers in cases involving personal injury, product liability, environmental degradation and other injury cases and consumer causes. 

On April 29, 2021, the CAOC reported some great news - that very day, the California State Senate overwhelmingly passed a CAOC bill to stop "death discounts" enjoyed by corporations. It's Senate Bill 447, legislation authored by Senator John Laird, a Democrat from Santa Cruz. The next step for SB447 is to move forward for consideration by Assembly policy committees.

SB 447 seeks to restore the right of a victim, or their loved ones, to pursue human suffering damages even if they pass away before their case goes to trial. This important law would stop corporations who benefit from existing law, which says that if someone dies and their case is still pending, their heirs are not entitled to recover their general damages. 

Some corporations intentionally delay cases, especially when someone is terminally ill, so they can take advantage of the current law. Other corporations have benefitted during the Covid-19 pandemic because the courts are very backed up and justice is being significantly delayed. The end result is corporations pocketing all the money that should have compensated for their suffering, instead of the victim's family receiving that money because the victim died before the litigation ended.

Here's how Code of Civil Procedure § 377.34 reads right now:
 
In an action or proceeding by a decedent's personal representative or successor in interest on the decedent's cause of action, the damages recoverable are limited to the loss or damage that the decedent sustained or incurred before death, including any penalties or punitive or exemplary damages that the decedent would have been entitled to recover had the decedent lived.
 
Here's how Senator John Laird wants Code of Civil Procedure § 377.34 to read:
 
(a) In an action or proceeding by a decedent's personal representative or successor in interest on the decedent's cause of action, the damages recoverable are limited to the loss or damage that the decedent sustained or incurred before death, including any penalties or punitive or exemplary damages that the decedent would have been entitled to recover had the decedent lived. lived, and do not include damages for pain, suffering, or disfigurement.
 
(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), in an action or proceeding by a decedent's personal representative or successor in interest on the decedent's cause of action, the damages recoverable may include damages for pain, suffering, or disfigurement if the cause of action accrued before January 1, 2026.
 
The CAOC press release went on to state:
 
“Families deserve a chance to recover from and hold responsible parties accountable for negligence that results in human suffering and even death, but current law in California prevents victims and their loved ones from obtaining justice in those cases,” said Senator John Laird, author of SB 447. “SB 447 will end a decades-old injustice for defendants whose victims die prior to case resolution.”
 

CAOC's legislative director stated in the press release: “We are grateful to the Senate for advancing this critical legislation that will ensure families can still recover human suffering damages even after their loved ones die,” said Nancy Peverini, Legislative Director, Consumer Attorneys of California. “California is one of just five states in the nation that rewards deadly negligence by allowing these damages for the anguish, misery, or grief a victim has experienced to die with them. SB 447 will finally restore access to justice in these cases for victims and their loved ones.”

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If your loved one passed away before their personal injury case went to trial, or they are terminally ill and their injury case is still pending, please call me.

I am Renée Yvonne Gardner, an auto accident and wrongful death attorney, and proud member of the Consumer Attorneys of California.

I represent people who suffer personal injuries in accidents and people whose loved ones pass away after serious accidents. I will demand accountability for you and in the name of your loved one.

Please call (408) 214-5555 or contact me here:

About the Author

Renée Yvonne Gardner

I am Renée Yvonne Gardner. I represent serious personal injury, wrongful death, criminal defense and post-conviction relief clients. I am the attorney at Gardner Law.  For many years, I worked my way through night school while I worked for another attorney during the day, as a paralegal. Before ...

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I deliver personalized representation in serious personal Injury, wrongful death, death benefits, criminal defense, and post-conviction relief ("cleaning") cases. Please call (408) 214-5555 or fill out my contact form.

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