Foes of Proposition 17, a ballot measure that would change state auto-insurance rules, filed a counter-lawsuit Thursday challenging proponents' ballot arguments as lies, one week after the proponents accused them of the very same.

Proponents say the measure on June's primary election ballot would simply make "continuous coverage discounts" portable so motorists can change insurance companies without losing their accrued time. Opponents say the measure would let insurers penalize people who miss just one payment, or who decide not to drive for a time and let their insurance lapse during that period.

A lawsuit filed last week in Sacramento County Superior Court by Californians for Fair Auto Insurance Rates, or Cal-FAIR, — a committee funded almost entirely by insurance giant Mercury General — claimed Prop. 17's opponents are intentionally misleading voters by claiming the measure creates penalties.

The countersuit filed Thursday in Sacramento by consumer advocate Harvey Rosenfield similarly urges the court to remove Cal-FAIR's false and misleading statements from the ballot pamphlet that voters will receive before June's election.


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Among other things, Rosenfield's countersuit says proponents' claims that soldiers living stateside are exempted from Prop. 17's surcharges, and that Californians already are charged using the continuous-coverage factor that Prop. 17 promotes, are false. Proposition 103, the 1988 insurance-rate rollback and regulation measure, bans the surcharge Mercury wants voters to approve, the countersuit contends.

"This is a weak 'me too' attempt to draw attention away from the numerous false and misleading statements made in No on 17's ballot statements, which last week we sued them to change," Alliance of Insurance Agents of Brokers Executive Director Mike D'Arelli said Thursday. "Their objective with this countersuit seems to be to bury the courts in reams of paper, kill a few trees along the way, and hopefully redirect attention away from the fact that No on 17 is opposed to a measure that will benefit consumers with more competition, more choice and lower auto insurance rates."

Read the Political Blotter at IBABuzz.com/politics.