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LOS ANGELES �— California legislators failed to pass three bills sponsored by the Civil Justice Association of California that claimed to curb class actions and frivolous lawsuits. The three bills were introduced last month at about the same time that securities plaintiff’s lawyer William S. Lerach was sentenced to two years in the federal government’s kickback probe of his former firm, now called Milberg. One bill would have allowed judges to withhold some attorney fees until all class members in a lawsuit are contacted and have received their portion of a settlement. That bill died before the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee. “This is a simple bill and honestly I am surprised there was opposition to it,” said Kim Stone, vice president of CJAC, a state tort reform group, in a prepared statement. “After all, the plaintiff’s attorney in a class action is ethically obligated to zealously represent all the members of the class.” A second bill would have allowed either party of a class action to appeal a judge’s initial certification order. Currently, only the plaintiff is allowed to appeal a denial of certification. The third bill would have allowed judges to order plaintiffs to pay attorney fees to a defendant if they engaged in a “frivolous or delaying tactic.” It also would have carved out frivolous claims while retaining meritorious allegations in a lawsuit. Both bills died before the state’s Assembly Judiciary Committee.

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