At the end of this month, California Supreme Court Justice Kathryn Werdegar is scheduled to retire, giving Gov. Jerry Brown the opportunity to appoint his fourth justice to the highest court in the nation’s most populous state, ending a Republican majority and sealing his influence over the court for decades.
That could be bad news for business, as California has long been a laboratory for costly legal innovations including strict liability and so-called “bystander injury” damages for people who observe a family member getting hurt. California’s steady expansion of tort liability after World War II spread across the rest of the country, driving up the cost of everything from manufactured products to insurance.
The good news is Brown is anything but predictable.