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Tom Dresslar’s characterization of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse in your July 12 article, “Tort Reformers Blast AG,” is both inaccurate and completely dismissive of the legitimate concerns of thousands of CALA supporters throughout California. His comments are also offensive to CALA’s local volunteer board members, like me, who have personal experience with frivolous lawsuits. In your article Mr. Dresslar dismissed CALA’s concerns about the AG’s office’s hiring of private law firms, especially in the state’s recent settlement with El Paso Corp (which has absolutely no connection with CALA). In that case $60 million went to a small consortium of private law firms; together four of those firms had contributed over half a million dollars to the attorney general’s campaign. This information is easily found on the Secretary of State’s Web site. Mr. Dresslar was quoted as saying “the payout to private law firms was not our concern.” We beg to differ as it’s incumbent on our elected officials, especially our “top cop,” to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. This is especially true given California’s lack of laws for disclosure or oversight over the hiring of private contingency fee lawyers. These arrangements, and state-sanctioned lawsuits that do little to benefit California citizens, but do an awful lot to benefit a select group of personal injury lawyers, should be closely scrutinized. It’s only appropriate that consumer watchdog groups like CALA should step up to the plate.

John Merchant Chairman, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse San Francisco

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