Whether you live in Encinitas or another part of San Diego County, you should know about a bill that has been introduced in California to “prohibit settlement agreements that keep secret information about dangerous products and environmental hazards,” according to a recent article in the Sacramento Bee. The bill is not the first of its kind. To be sure, a number of other states have enacted similar laws to help ensure that consumers can have important information about hazardous products that could cause personal injuries. We want to provide some more information about the bill, and to give you an idea of how it could impact personal injury lawsuits in Southern California concerning product defects.
Confidential Settlements and Defective Products in California
Assemblyman Mark Stone introduced Assembly Bill 889, which is designed to prevent lawsuit settlements that are conditioned on information about defective products that could pose “a danger to public health and safety” being kept confidential. Currently, when consumers file lawsuits against manufacturers after being injured by a product with a safety defect, for example, the manufacturer can settle the lawsuit and require the consumer to agree to confidentiality. Often, such confidentiality is to ensure that a protective order issued by the court that “prevent[s] plaintiffs from disclosing information that they have learned and insist, as a condition of settling a lawsuit, that the parties remain silent about the matter.”