Complaints about anti-business lawsuits and astronomical jury verdicts are common, notes California Watch. But data compiled by the National Law Journal – and highlighted by the Consumer Attorneys of California, which fights restrictions on lawsuits – shows a different dynamic was in play in the state’s courts last year. The biggest verdicts in California in 2011, including a $2.32 billion award made by a jury in Los Angeles, came in lawsuits in which one big corporation sued another. That trend undercuts the complaint that abuse of the legal system is creating a poor business climate, argued J.G. Preston, spokesman for the lawyers group.
“The big money in California lawsuits isn't going to people suing businesses, or even people suing other individuals,” he wrote in a summary of the California verdicts. “It's going to businesses suing other businesses, typically in intellectual property or breach of contract suits.” The top three California verdicts involved complex business disputes in which hundreds of millions in profits were at stake. In the biggest verdict, St. Jude Medical Inc., which manufactures pacemakers, sued a Chinese medical manufacturer called Nervicon, claiming theft of trade secrets. The jury awarded $2.32 billion in damages.