Trial lawyers arrive in
There’s a new president-elect, one that will surely be more receptive to their political views on preemption, insurance regulations and other issues than the current White House occupant. And on the state level, four out of six CAOC-backed candidates won on Tuesday night, while a fifth, Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson of the 19th Senate District, is clinging to a tiny lead. The trial lawyers have also managed to make it through the year – the first in a while -- without a serious ballot initiative threat by opponents.
Into this arena steps Christine Spagnoli, the Green Broillet & Wheeler partner who will be installed as the new president of CAOC on Saturday night.
“It’s better for everyone to efficiently resolve your claims,” she said.
After years of negotiations and threatened ballot initiatives, the CAOC and business groups finally agreed on landmark legislation designed to curb excessive lawsuits over disabled-rights access to buildings. The trial lawyers may have to seek that kind of compromise legislation if they want it signed by GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. While the Democrat-controlled Legislature has been friendly to most of the CAOC’s causes, the governor has consistently blocked lawyers’ major efforts with his veto pen – or just the threat of it.
“There are certainly roadblocks to some legislative change,” Spagnoli said. “It doesn’t mean we should not try. Part of what bringing legislation does is help educate lawmakers.”
Spagnoli will also play a major role next year in hiring a new chief executive officer. Previous CEO Michael Reyna resigned quietly earlier this year for reasons that have never been fully explained. Veteran CAOC lobbyist Nancy Drabble is now serving as the organization’s interim executive while Lea-Ann Tratten has taken on the role of political director.
Spagnoli, who started at her current firm as a law clerk to name partner Browne Greene, has been a member of CAOC’s executive committee for the last 12 years.
“It’s something that I probably [knew] from my first day as a lawyer, probably even my first day as a law clerk: service to the organization is part of the job,” she said.
— Cheryl Miller