State Legislators Drop California Pollution Bill
State legislators, under extreme pressure from architect, construction and many other industry groups, killed a bill which would have closed the loophole often used by businesses to escape from pollution lawsuits.
AB 1207 was sponsored by Assemblyman Warren Furutani, a Democrat from Long Beach. The bill came into being because of a lawsuit in Carson, where residents of the area in 2009 discovered that for almost fifty years, their families have been exposed to unsafe levels of cancer-causing toxins that emanate from their properties. There is no state law that clearly puts time limits on cases involving pollution, which are usually discovered a couple of decades after the toxic dumping occurred.
But Shell Oil Co and a local-based developer were able to get the resident lawsuit junked at the outset by claiming that the 10-year time limit of the state on “construction” defect claims had already expired.
Major supporters of Carson residents informed Furutani that a new law was needed, as many other companies were also using the construction defects time limits of the state to evade legal responsibility for damages caused by pollution.
However, lobbyists from the construction industry contended that the bill of Furutani will make builders, developers and architects unnecessarily vulnerable to lawsuits.
The Associated Builders and Contractors of California, the American Institute of Architects’ California Council, and forty other groups, wrote Mike Feuer, a Democrat from West Hollywood and chairman of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, warning that the weak economy of California is being threatened by the bill of Furutani and could force business owners to “possible bankruptcy.”