False and Misleading Mercury Lawsuit

Talk about irony, Mercury Insurance and its front group Ca-FAIR have filed a lawsuit in Sacramento today attacking the ballot argument against Proposition 17 as “false and misleading.” Really? Seems Mercury and Cal-FAIR win top prize in that category. Their endless stream of lies, hyperbole, and distortions boggle the mind. To say it it disingenuous would be generous, to a fault.

The 62-page lawsuit – over our 750 words — filed by Mercury’s campaign committee asks a Sacramento judge to strikeout or rewrite large portions of the arguments against Prop 17, which were wrtten by consumer and veterans advocates as well as former Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi and former Attorney General John Van de Kamp.

Proposition 17, sponsored and funded by Mercury Insurance, would allow insurance companies to surcharge drivers based on their history of purchasing auto insurance. That is currently illegal in California by virtue of the 1988 insurance reform measure Proposition 103. Mercury’s Proposition 17 suit claims that Proposition 103 does not ban consideration of prior insurance coverage history, notwithstanding numerous decisions by CA Dept. of Iinsurance and the courts in the past.

In its lawsuit, Mercury asks the Court to change or delete 10 sections from the 500-word argument against Prop 17 and three sections from the 250-word rebuttal. Mercury, for example, asks the court to strike the sentence from the argument against Prop 17 that reads: “We shouldn't give insurance companies more power to raise our rates, especially during a recession.” The argument against Prop 17 was signed by Consumer Watchdog, Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports and VoteVets.org. Mercury also asks the court to change the rebuttal statement of John Garamendi and John Van De Kamp.

They wrote: “FACT: 17 overturns a law passed by California voters in 1988 to make insurers compete fairly for customers” Mercury has asked the court to change that language to instead read: “FACT: 17 amends a law passed by California voters in 1988 to allow insured individuals to transfer their persistency discounts to other insurers.”

In making these claims to the Court, Mercury and its lawyers distort the meaning of the initiative, current law, and the judicial and regulatory history surrounding the issue.

Harvey Rosenfield, the founder of Consumer Watchdog had this to say when he read the suit:

Mercury Insurance is lying to the Court, just as it has been lying to voters and has lied to regulators, lawmakers and the courts in the past. This lawsuit is a total waste of court resources, but Mercury will spend any amount of money to have its way and deny the public honest information about its attack on responsible drivers who can't afford Prop 17's premium hikes.

Mercury wants to win the surcharge battle, at any price.

For more information about Prop 17, visit: www.StopProp17.org