An Amendment to California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1002 Prevents Hiding Certain Sex Abuses Behind Confidentiality Clauses
As of January 1, 2017, a bill amending California Code of Civil Procedure §1002 would prohibit a confidentiality or secrecy provision in a settlement agreement in a civil action for an act of childhood sexual abuse or an act of sexual assault against an elder or dependent adult and would prohibit a court from entering an order restricting access to or disclosure of any information obtained through discovery.
Moreover, the bill would make a confidential settlement agreement, as specified, void as a matter of law and against public policy, and would create a presumption that an attorney who advises a client to sign such an agreement has committed an act involving moral turpitude and subject to professional discipline. The bill would require the State Bar of California to investigate and take appropriate action against such an attorney.
However, the amendment will not preclude the parties from keeping confidential any amounts paid in settlement of the underlying claims.
So, the take away is that no longer can a previous loop hole in CCP § 1002 be used to hide certain sexual abuses behind confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements. Importantly, the court cannot enter any such orders restricting the disclosure of the information and any attorney who advises his client to sign such an agreement is subject to State Bar discipline.
Eric Papp, Esq.