Yesterday our sister publication Cal Law had the man-bites-dog story of the Consumer Attorneys of California backing a tort reform measure: Senate Bill 367, which would explicity declare that promotional discounts and giveaways for laid-off and furloughed employees don't constitute a violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act.
Nobody has actually brought such a lawsuit, as best we could tell. But it appeared Consumer Attorneys might have had at least one lawyer in mind: Alfred Rava, a San Diego attorney who has brought numerous Unruh Act challenges to gender-oriented business promotions. Rava has generated negative headlines in the mainstream press and on the blogosphere for challenging such giveaways as an Oakland A's Mother's Day gift of floppy hats to women in 2004.
It looks as if Consumer Attorneys may be too late to stop Rava from making bad caselaw for plaintiffs. Today we got word that he lost a class certification motion against Bear Valley Ski Resort over a "ladies day" promotion. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Anthony Mohr issued a 13-page order [pdf] holding that, because the Unruh Act provides for minimum statutory penalties of $4,000 per violation, there's no need for a class action.
"Assuming plaintiff succeeds on the merits, Bear Valley Ski Resort would be liable for mandatory statutory penalties of $4,000 X 995 putative class members," Mohr wrote. "The product of $3,980,000 constitutes a draconian sum that would strip Bear Valley of its assets."
Rava was acting as the name plaintiff in the case, not as counsel. He was represented by Gregory Cartwright of The Cartwright Law Group in San Diego and Joseph M. Grant of Houston. Brian T. Clark of San Francisco's Knott & Glazier was lead counsel for Bear Valley while John Golper of Universal City's Ballard Rosenberg Golper & Savitt led a team for co-defendants Anheuser-Busch and Bacardi.
— Scott Graham