Plan To Cap Lawyer Fees Leads In California Vote

A measure to cap lawyers’ fees in cases that settle before trial was ahead in California’s primary Tuesday while proposals to set up no-fault auto insurance and discourage shareholder lawsuits were losing.

In other races:

A proposal to clear the way for hunting California’s mountain lions was going down to defeat.

Los Angeles District Attorney Gil Garcetti appeared headed toward a November runoff;

San Francisco voters were overwhelmingly approving a new stadium for baseball’s Giants.

With the GOP presidential nomination all but decided, the three propositions aimed at curbing what some see as abuses of the legal system drew the most interest in statewide voting.

The initiatives were backed by high-tech business interests and opposed by lawyers and consumer advocates, who dubbed them the “Terrible 2’s.”

Proposition 200 would have set up a no-fault auto insurance system, in which a person’s insurer pays for all damages, regardless of who is to blame. The measure had 634,695 no’s, or 61 percent, to 421,127 yes’s, or 39 percent, with 9 percent of precincts reporting.

Proposition 201 requires losing parties in securities class-action lawsuits to pay the winners’ attorney fees and other litigation expenses. There were 600,103 no votes, or 56 percent, and 468,843 yes votes, or 44 percent. Proposition 202 would cap plaintiffs’ lawyers’ fees - in cases ranging from personal injury to sexual harassment - to 15 percent of the settlement if the plaintiff agrees to settle within 60 days. Voters were approving it 558,209 votes, or 53 percent to 499,219 or 47 percent.

In Los Angeles, Garcetti was ahead of five challengers despite criticism during the campaign that he couldn’t win convictions in the murder trials of O.J. Simpson and rap star Snoop Doggy Dogg.

In other statewide ballot issues, a measure to repeal a 24-year-old ban on the sport hunting of cougars had 564,944 no votes, or 53 percent, to 499,768 yes votes, or 47 percent.

Supporters, including ranching and hunting groups, cited two separate attacks in 1994 in which mountain lions killed joggers. Animal protection and environmental groups opposed the measure.

In San Francisco, a measure to replace cold, windy Candlestick Park, the Giants’ home since 1960, was ahead by a margin of 63 percent to 37 percent in very early returns.

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