California Non-Profit Plaintiffs Act (2008)

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The Non-Profit Plaintiffs Initiative (07-0044) was shooting for the November 2008 general election ballot in California. Its supporters would have had to turn in 433,971 valid signatures by March 3, 2008 in order to make the November ballot.

In mid-March 2008, the California Secretary of State announced that the measure had failed to qualify for the November 2008 ballot.

The objective of the initiative was to allow certain non-profit organizations to sue to enforce California's laws about unfair business competition, regardless of whether the organization has itself been injured. Currently, in order to sue in California under unfair business competition law, the person or group filing the lawsuit must have been directly injured by the acts of the group that is being sued.

The specific elements of this initiative:

  • Requires court to find settlements of class action lawsuits provide “meaningful” relief.
  • Allows for the most effective and least costly form of notice to class members.
  • Exempts notice to class members and changes certification requirements when lawsuit seeks injunctive, and not financial, relief.
  • Requires twenty-five percent of punitive damages awarded in class action lawsuits be paid to the state to enforce specific laws.


James C. Harrison
Margaret R. Prinzing
Remcho, Johansen & Purcell, LLP

Estimated fiscal impact of the measure

Fiscal impact estimate as provided by California's Legislative Analyst office:

Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Unknown fiscal impact on state revenues from court filing fees and the cost of court operations. Unknown net increase in state revenues, potentially up to the low tens of millions of dollars in some years, from providing a 25 percent share of punitive damage awards from class action cases to the state.

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