Updated: Derrick Burts Claims Prop 60 Opponents Are Spreading Lies
UPDATED (Aug. 2, 11 a.m. PDT) — Includes reaction to suit from Eric Paul Leue, who leads the anti-Prop 60 group Californians Against Worker Harassment and Free Speech Coalition.
UPDATED (Aug. 3, 3 p.m. PDT) — A Sacramento Superior Court judge signed an order today shortening time for a hearing on Derrick Burts claims. A hearing on his petition will be held on Aug. 10 at 10:30 a.m.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Derrick Burts, the former gay porn star who said he contracted HIV from another performer in 2010, has filed a lawsuit charging certain porn stars and a California lawmaker are intentionally spreading lies about Prop 60 to voters.
Burts, an ally of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which is the chief sponsor of Prop 60, said in the suit filed Thursday that opponents — Eric Paul Leue, who leads the Free Speech Coalition as executive director and the anti-Prop 60 group Californians Against Worker Harassment; state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco; and adult stars Chanel Preston and Nina Hartley, among others — have filed false arguments with California elections officials.
Those arguments are set to be delivered to voters in a ballot pamphlet in August, Burts said in the suit, which seeks for the respondents in the suit “to delete or amend false and/or misleading portions of the ballot argument against Prop 60” before its print deadline of Aug. 15. The suit also seeks attorneys fees.
Burts’ lawsuit, filed at Sacramento Superior Court, focuses on 17 individual claims made by the Prop 60 critics.
"The statements range from outright falsehoods about Prop 60, to misplaced reliance on superseded fiscal findings of the Legislative Analyst, to obfuscation of the measure's private attorney general provision and even to inaccurately naming an organization that opposes the measure," Burts’ suit said.
If passed by voters in November, Prop 60 would not only require condom use in California's porn industry, but also force producers to register with the state and pay for performers to be tested for STIs. Porn producers could also be sued for violating the new safety regulations.
The arguments for and against Prop 60 were revealed by state Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who also is named in the suit.
Burts claims that the letters signed by Leno, Preston and Hartley contain misrepresentations about the impact the initiative could have on California's economy.
Forcing performers to wear condoms would cost taxpayers "tens of millions of dollars" and "give every Californian the right to sue adult film performers," Leno, Preston and Hartley argued in rebuttals.
The opponents claimed in their signed documents that even married couples filming porn in their own home could be sued if Prop 60 is approved by voters, Burts noted in the suit.
Leue blasted the suit, calling it an attempt to intimidate the group, the adult film performers who oppose Prop. 60 "and the growing coalition against the measure."
"The lawsuit asks the court to delete any reference to the lawsuit provisions in Prop. 60 that we have described in our argument that will be included in the Official Voter Guide," Leue told XBIZ. "Voters deserve to know the truth about Prop. 60.
"This lawsuit is a desperate political tactic to prevent voters from finding out that Prop. 60 allows any resident of California to sue adult film performers, even when the State of California does not find a violation of law," Leue said. "It is ironic that AHF has resorted to filing a lawsuit to prevent voters from finding out what's in the initiative.
"A lawsuit to conceal that the initiative will result in a lawsuit bonanza. Clever."
Burts is represented by attorney Bradley Hertz, a partner at the Sutton Law Firm in San Francisco. Hertz has represented the AHF in other legal matters.
Pictured: Derrick Burts