Lawsuit Could Delay Stem Cell Research Grant Awards
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine might not be able to award grants for stem cell research until California courts resolve a lawsuit alleging that Proposition 71 improperly distributes public funds without legislative oversight, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/4).
The California Supreme Court in March declined to hear the lawsuit brought by People's Advocate and the National Tax Limitation Committee, two taxpayer groups, but said the lawsuit could be refiled in a lower state court. The Life Legal Defense Foundation, a group that opposes stem cell research and abortion rights, represents the taxpayer groups in the lawsuit, which seeks to prevent CIRM from distributing funds (California Healthline, 3/24).
The groups refiled the suit in Alameda County Superior Court, "beginning a legal proceeding that -- under normal timetables -- would last at least a year," according to the Chronicle.
Nathan Barankin, a spokesperson for Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D), on Tuesday said that bonds to fund CIRM cannot be sold while legal action is pending.
Dana Cody, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said that the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee would have to arrange private funding or reformulate itself in a new ballot measure if the lawsuit succeeds.
ICOC Chair Robert Klein and state lawmakers have considered filing a bond validation suit in Sacramento County Superior Court. Such a lawsuit could "sidestep opponents' legal objections and validate the bonds" within months, according to the Chronicle.
Barankin said no decision has been made on filing such a lawsuit.
Cody said a bond validation lawsuit might allow bonds to be issued without requiring a court to address the claims raised by plaintiffs. "If that's the case, it's the taxpayer that loses," Cody said, adding, "Once the bonds are issued and once the money is granted, there's no getting it back" (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/4).