Every Spring, the Bay Area weather gets nice, the Giants and A's start playing baseball, and the Attorney General releases data from all of the previous year's Proposition 65 settlements. And for the last three years, CBL has analyzed the data.
Proposition 65 requires that all settlements be reported to the AG -- confidential settlements are not allowed. Settlements are posted on her web site as they come in, and her office annually compiles summaries of the settlements, available from 2000 to 2011 here.
And here's our analysis of the 2011 private party enforcer numbers:
The total amount recovered by the private bar in Proposition 65 settlements was up by some 16% in 2011, from $13.6 million up to about $15.9 million. Here's the breakdown by enforcer, by penalties, attorneys' fees and other payments (these images will all pop up and enlarge if you click them):
According to the AG, the total number of settlements involving private parties was way, way up, from 187 in 2010 to 327 in 2011. This would suggest that the average settlement had dropped by nearly half. CBL doubts this. In our experience, the AG's summaries of large, multi-party Proposition 65 matters don't always count the data accurately. We eliminated from the analyusis several multi-party cases where the data appeared incomplete, and found the following concerning average settlements:
Last year we took a look at what percentage of all settlements goes to attorneys' fees and costs. And we showed how in the four years from 2007-2010, that's where 64% of the money went.
That number didn't go down in in 2011. In the five years from 2007 to 2011, a thumping 67% of the settlements went to attorneys' fees and costs:
As you will also see, about 10% went for penalties. That's significant, because 75% of the penalties go to the State of California. So the total to the State of California from private party enforcer cases between 2007 to 2011: $3.9 million. That's 11.2% of the amount that went to the attorneys.
To put it as politely and diplomatically as possible, Wow!