January 25, 2017

New Study Finds 90% of California Pharmaceutical Plaintiffs are from Other States

Ninety percent of the 25,503 plaintiffs in pharmaceutical product liability lawsuits between January 2010 and May 2016 in California are from out of state.

Those are the findings of a new study released by the Civil Justice Association of California.

“Since roughly 12% of Americans live in California, that means the percentage of in-state plaintiffs in the lawsuits studied is lower than the state’s percentage of the national population,” the study stated. “Over two-thirds of the 2,919 cases in the study involved only nonresident plaintiffs. In almost 86% of the cases, more than half of the plaintiffs were from out of state.”

California’s reputation as a plaintiff-friendly venue is the reason for attracting these out-of-state lawsuits to the Los Angeles and San Francisco Superior Court systems, according to the study.  Suits filed in these courts have consistently produced some of the country’s largest verdicts in tort cases, particularly in the pharmaceutical field.

The study suggests laws friendly to plaintiffs’ lawsuits and poor standards for courtroom experts make the California legal system particularly appealing venue for these kinds of cases.

In a “Legal Opinion Letter” the Washington Legal Foundation wrote, “California is the birthplace of so-called innovator liability theory, which provides that the manufacturer of a brand-name drug may be subject to liability when a patient is injured by a generic version made by a third party. Further, California is among a shrinking minority of states that has not adopted the federal Daubert standard for the admissibility of expert evidence. California also retains joint liability for noneconomic damages and has no statutory cap on punitive damages, unlike many other states.”

California was ranked #47 in ILR’s 2015 State Lawsuit Climate Report, which identified Los Angeles and San Francisco as venues with among the nation’s least fair and reasonable litigation climates.

For more on California’s legal climate, please visit

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