California Rejects Jury Consideration of Immigration Status in Personal Injury Suits
On August 17, 2016, Governor Brown signed AB 2159, ensuring equal treatment of injured Californians regardless of immigration status when they seek damages in Court. This bill prohibits consideration of an injured person’s immigration status in personal injury and wrongful death suits. This bill will become law on January 1, 2017.
Currently, juries consider immigration status of an injured person in the context of future lost wages. Specifically, it was proper for a jury to return a damage award for future lost wages based upon what the injured person could earn in their country of origin, rather than the Unites States. The new law will have juries look at more accurate data to determine future wage loss, such as actual work history.
This legislative change overturns the appellate decision of Rodriguez v. Kline (1986) 186 Cal.App.3d 1145. AB 2159 was created by Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) and co-sponsored by CAOC (Consumer Attorneys of California) and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.