‘I’m Sorry’ Bill Signed Into Calif. Law

July 27, 2000

California Governor Gray Davis signed a new bill into law on July 24 that says apologies or “benevolent gestures of sympathy” cannot be used or interpreted as admissions of guilt or liability in California courts.

The bill, authored by State Rep. Lou Papan, is aimed at improving efforts to mediate civil disputes, which are often overthrown by lawyers and insurers who counsel clients to avoid any kind of apology.

“A simple apology is certainly no remedy for damages or harm suffered through negligence or carelessness of others, but it can be part of the overall resolution to a legal dispute,” Papan said. “An act of contrition, if only symbolic, has tremendous value.” Papan described the function of an apology as “another tool for resolving disputes,” opening the way for sympathetic dialogue.

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