AVN News

Derrick Burts Sues Over Alleged Anti-Prop 60 Falsehoods

Jul 29th, 2016 04:04 PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—Former adult performer Derrick Burts, who has close ties to  AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and frequently appears with AHF president Michael Weinstein on the rostrum at their press conferences, has today filed a petition seeking to force Acting State Printer Kevin Hannah to delete several of the arguments against Prop 60 made by Californians Against Worker Harassment and other adult personalities from the official California state informational ballot booklet which is sent to voters.

Burts claims that at least three statements scheduled to be included in the official documents are false and/or misleading. But as someone who has reported on and closely followed the development of this proposition over the past months, I offer an informed view that the statements are in fact nothing of the sort.

Specifically, Burts claims that the statement "Prop 60 allow ANYONE in California to sue adult film producers, violate their privacy and weaken safety standards" should be removed from the official Ballot Measure Summary. However, Prop 60 is clear that if the California Division of Occupational Safety & Health (Cal/OSHA) declines to press charges within 21 days against an adult producer (including producer/performers) who produces a sexually explicit feature or scene shot in California, then indeed ANYONE in the state can sue that producer under what has been termed the "Private Attorney General" statute.

Further, if such lawsuits are filed by private citizens, those actions would force the performers involved to reveal their legal names in order to challenge the suits, thus opening them to violence by anti-porn activists and stalkers. Moreover, since the Proposition contains no specific requirements regarding testing of performers for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), but merely mandates the use of condoms and other "Engineering controls and work practice controls" which, according to definitions in the California Health Code include rubber gloves, goggles and face shields, the Proposition provides significantly less safety for performers than the currently mandated 14-day testing procedure and the PASS system.

Burts is also suing State Sen. Mark Leno, Dr. Mark Gladstein and Valley Industry & Commerce Assn. VP Jessica Yasukochi for their statements against the Proposition, claiming that the entirely factual statments that the Proposition "will cost taxpayers 'tens of millions of dollars'" (even though the state's Legislative Analyst recently—and incorrectly—deleted the "tens of" from his own statement), and that their statement that the above-mentioned "citizen lawsuits" allow citizens to file suit "directly against adult film performers; on-set crew and even cable and satellite television companies who distribute the films. Even injured performers can be sued directly by anyone. No other worker in California can be sued this way" are somehow inaccurate. Simply put, that is horseshit. One need only read the Proposition to see that.

Burts asserts that it isn't the case that the "named proponent"—aka AHF president Michael Weinstein—"cannot be fired" except by a vote of both Houses of the California Legislature. Then what does he think the Proposition's clause, which reads in part, "the proponent shall not be considered an 'at-will' employee of the State of California, but the Legislature shall have the authority to remove the proponent from his agency role by a majority vote of each house of the Legislature when 'good cause' exists to do so, as that term is defined by California case law" means?

Burts also claims that the statement "Married couples who film in their own homes can be sued" is false, but again, Burts has willfuly misread the Proposition; they absolutely can be sued if the married couple releases their footage commercially.

Finally, Burts' Petition goes after adult performers Chanel Preston and Nina Hartley—perhaps not coincidentally, revealing those performers real names (Ed Note: Preston and Hartley's legal names are included in their letter for the voter guide,which will be sent to all voting households in the state),as would also be the case if citizens sued them for lack of condom use—and former Cal/OSHA Standards Board Chair Jere Ingram as signatories to the statement "Is it a surprise that this special interest group [AHF] will also profit from the proposition? They will be given authority to file countless lawsuits against workers in adult films and can pocket the special fines. Every on-set worker could be sued."

Considering AHF's track record in lending its own legal staff, free of charge, to the lawsuit against the Adult Industry Medical (AIM) Healthcare Foundation by two former performers regarding alleged violation of their medical privacy rights, no one in his/her right mind would doubt that if Prop 60 passes, AHF would make those same legal services available to citizens who sue adult producers over the Prop 60 requirements.

The entire Petition can be read here.

Although Burts is the technical Petitioner here, there can be little doubt who is actually behind the lawsuit, what with AIDS Healthcare having put out a press release championing the action.

"The California Voter Guide is an official state document that millions of California voters rely on for accurate information about ballot measures," said Rick Taylor, identified in the AHF press release as Yes on Prop 60's lead campaign consultant. "As such, it is incumbent upon state officials to ensure that the materials provided by both supporters and opponents of ballot measures are truthful, fair and accurate. The language in question submitted to the Secretary of State by the adult film industry and the Free Speech Coalition misrepresents several significant parts of Proposition 60—that it will potentially cost the state 'tens of millions in state and local tax revenue,' and that it will allow every Californian to sue any adult film performer and obtain and expose their true identities and personal information. Interestingly, the language submitted by opponents in their three opposition arguments regarding Proposition 60 never once mention the word 'condom.'"

Well, Rick, perhaps that's because the signatories believe the main purposes of Prop 60, aside from harassing the adult industry, is to set Michael Weinstein up with a California state job for life.

For more on this controversy, see AHF's fraudulent attempt to claim that adult performers support Prop 60 here.