Civil Rights

Critic: Ruling Spurs 'Mercenary Attorneys'

Four men may sue a California nightclub for denying them ladies’ night discounts without first asking the club to stop discriminating.

The California Supreme Court ruled yesterday (PDF) that the state’s Unruh Civil Rights Act does not require victims of bias to press businesses for equal treatment before suing.

Writing for a unanimous court, Chief Justice Ronald George said the justices had concerns that the lack of such a requirement could result in abusive lawsuits. But he said it was a question for the legislature or voters rather than the courts.

The Pacific Legal Foundation filed an amicus brief in the case. Timothy Sandifer, an attorney for the property-rights group, told the San Francisco Chronicle the ruling will encourage shakedown lawsuits.

“This makes it all the easier for mercenary attorneys who have no real concern about public welfare to bring lawsuits against businesses seeking nothing more than jackpot damages,” Sandifer said.

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