Gonzalez Bill Providing Fair Civil Awards to People Regardless of Immigration Status Heads to Governor


Assembly Member Gonzalez File Picture

August 1, 2016 (SACRAMENTO) A bill by California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) to ensure an injured person in California receives fair and just compensation for future income loss and future medical costs regardless of their immigration status was approved by the State Senate on a bipartisan 28-11 vote today. It will now be submitted to the Governor for signature.


AB 2159 will ensure fair and just compensation for every Californian in civil court cases regardless of their immigration status after a 1986 court decision allowed for immigrants to be shortchanged in their awards for damages. Additionally, the bill preserves the integrity of the recovery process for an individual seeking compensation for future income loss or future medical costs.


“California has spent decades working to ensure people are not additionally penalized for their immigration status, and AB 2159 would close an accidental loophole benefitting those who seek to exploit immigrants,” Gonzalez said.


Based on a 30-year-old court decision in the Rodriguez v. Kline case, defendants faced with paying damages for lost future income typically seek to limit these damages to what the individual would have earned in their “home” country despite the fact that the individual lives in California and depends on the income for the job they perform here as well.


The California Legislature has over the years passed laws indicating the importance of protecting the rights of undocumented people not only in the employment setting, but in all respects. However, these protections do not currently extend to individuals seeking recovery of fair compensation for their injuries through our civil justice system.


AB 2159 was presented on the Senate Floor by Senator Isadore Hall (D-Compton). Supporting organizations include The ACLU of California, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), California Catholic Conference, the Consumer Federation of California, Equality California, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and a diverse coalition of labor organizations.


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