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8 posts from January 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Federal Consumer Protection Agency

Susan Antilla writes of President Obama’s intention to establish a federal financial protection agency for consumers.  According to the proposal’s language, it would seek to prohibit marketing and advertising that is “unfair, deceptive, or abusive,” essentially reliving the industry from self-regulation. 

Unsurprisingly, critics (including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) argue that the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act (CFAA) is a death sentence for small companies and expensive for consumers. 

Antilla’s op-ed offers some quotable analysis: “Regulators who oversee safety and soundness are motivated most of all by the desire to have the institutions they supervise be profitable.  But profits often come in the form of usurious rates and excessive fees.” Conversely, if a federal CFAA is enacted and brakes are put on what the trial bar feels are abusive or deceptive practices, “it could take a real bite out of the available scandals for people like me to write about.”  Not to mention the viability of businesses already struggling to stay afloat.    

You can read Susan Antilla’s op-ed here.  She is also a Bloomberg News columnist. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

NJLRA Statement on the Inauguration of Governor Christie

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                              Contact:  AnnMarie McDonald

January 21, 2010                                                                    (609) 392-6557

                                                                                                    amcdonald@njlra.org

 

 

NJLRA STATEMENT ON THE INAUGURATION OF GOVERNOR CHRISTIE

 

Rayner expresses optimism, believes comprehensive bipartisan civil justice reform is possible

 

TRENTON, N.J. – Marcus Rayner, executive director of the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance, issued the following statement after attending the swearing-in of Christopher J. Christie as New Jersey’s Governor:

 

“I would like to congratulate Chris Christie as he assumes his new role as New Jersey’s governor.  As a state, we are in dire need of innovative solutions to improve our business climate and spur economic growth.  The Governor’s inclusion of Senate President Steven Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Shelia Oliver is critical to advancing cost-neutral tort reform remedies to address this situation. 

 

New Jersey cannot recover from this recession without sound policies that support job growth.  With limited resources to fund tax breaks or business incentives, legal reform offers policymakers in Trenton a fiscal-friendly policy change that can send a very strong message to employers all across the nation:  New Jersey is once again open for business. 

 

As we look toward the 214th Legislature with a fresh administration and legislative leadership, we are optimistic that real civil justice reform is possible.  As a candidate, Governor Christie included tort reform in his economic development plan.  He expressed interest in reforming the law to limit the ability of many out-of-state plaintiffs to sue in New Jersey's courts, discourage frivolous class-action litigation, and enhance the integrity of scientific evidence admitted in our courts. We look forward to working with the Governor’s office, Senate President Sweeney, and Speaker Oliver to achieve these reforms and build a stronger New Jersey. 

 

 

 

# # #

 

The New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance (NJLRA) is a statewide, bipartisan group of businesses, individuals and organizations committed to improving the State’s civil justice system by advocating for legal reforms in the legislature and in the courts. NJLRA believes a balanced civil justice system is critical to ensuring fair and open courts, maintaining and attracting jobs and fostering economic growth in New Jersey. NJLRA is the only organization in New Jersey dedicated exclusively to civil justice reform.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

California Governor’s Job Creation Proposals Would be Golden for the Garden State

As Chris Christie prepares to take office today, he might want to consider adopting some of the innovative proposals California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has offered to stimulate his state’s economy. 

With unemployment rates surpassing double digits in both states, attracting new businesses and retaining current businesses are critical for recovery.  Recognizing that California’s litigation laws lead to large settlements with little value to taxpayers or consumers, Gov. Schwarzenegger outlined a tort reform proposal intended to spur job growth.  Among these proposals is a cap on punitive damage awards.  In New Jersey, they would be especially welcome among our remaining businesses, especially in the pharmaceutical industry where our state once reigned supreme. 

Christie, like Schwarzenegger, will be a Republican Governor of a state with a Democratic-controlled Legislature.  Leaders of both parties have pledged their willingness to cooperate in order to help New Jersey recover from its economic crisis.  Tort reform may prove to be a significant job creation tool in New Jersey as well as California. 

Thursday, January 14, 2010

California Governor’s Job Creation Proposals Could Work in the Garden State

As he enters his final year in office, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has outlined an innovative strategy to spark the job creation his state’s economy so desperately needs.  And it starts with tort reform. 

“California’s current litigation laws lead to large settlements with little value to consumers, but become worth millions to lawyers at the expense of California businesses,” said Governor Schwarzenegger in a statement following his state-of-the-state address. 

In order to help California recover from its double-digit unemployment and declining business community- a situation eerily familiar in New Jersey-  the Governor announced his intention to push for a series of legislative and statutory changes.  They will include a cap on punitive damage awards- which he notes are “wildly unpredictable” among similar cases in California, changes to the rules governing class-action and product liability lawsuits, and requiring plaintiffs rather than defendants to subsidize notification to potential class members.  The last would be particularly important because current statutes hold businesspersons liable for defective products, even if the seller had no knowledge or control over the defect. 

Schwarzenegger’s model for these proposals is his state’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, which was enacted in 1975.  Noneconomic damages are capped at $250,000.  It has been widely credited with keeping malpractice insurance premiums in check and keeping primary and specialty doctors in California. 

“I know that if we can recreate the teamwork we built last year and focus together on these priorities… California will emerge from these difficult times stronger and more vibrant than ever,” he said. 

Schwarzenegger is a Republican Governor who must work with a Democratic-controlled Legislature in order to advance any proposals – just like incoming Governor Chris Christie. 

Democratic and Republican leaders pledged their willingness to cooperate in order to help New Jersey rebound from its economic crisis.  Perhaps this will be a golden opportunity for Governor Christie to introduce tort reform in New Jersey. 


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Trial Bar is on the Attack

A north-Jersey based medical malpractice attorney is on the defensive following NJLRA’s Op-ed in the Trenton Times (“Tort Reform is Key to a Healthier New Jersey”, 12/20/09).

NJLRA’s op-ed detailed the personal story of a UMDNJ student, who is faced with the harsh reality of having to either abandon his life-long dream of becoming an OBGYN, or move out of the state he grew up in order to do so.  This is a growing trend among New Jersey’s medical students who cannot afford the astronomical malpractice insurance required of New Jersey’s specialty doctors on top of their student loans. 

NJLRA has underscored that even seasoned obstetricians have had to significantly scale back the services they provide in order to keep pace with mounting malpractice premiums.  Included in this category is Mercer County’s Dr. Dolores Williams, who testified to a legislative panel that she was forced to decide between delivering dozens of additional babies each month in order to offset malpractice premiums, or stop delivering babies altogether.  She chose the latter.  Larger awards above and beyond reasonable compensation, extracted from as many physicians as possible, drive insurance rates increasingly higher.  Combined, these scenarios amount to an impending healthcare crisis for New Jersey, and as Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-Monmouth) emphasized during a legislative voting session, “Yes, it is indeed a crisis.” 

The attorney, however, apparently takes issue with the notion that fewer doctors practicing specialized medicine in New Jersey is a bad thing.  He does not address that New Jersey is high among the American Medical Association’sleast desirable states” in which to practice medicine.  At some point, fewer specialty doctors per capita translates into diminished access to care, particularly for those who don’t have the option of traveling in order to receive it. 

There is a reason malpractice attorneys are able to thrive in New Jersey, and it’s not because the number of malpractice cases have decreased. 

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Atlantic County's Hell

Stacy Proebstle of New Jersey 101.5 wrote about ATRA’s “Judicial Hellhole” Report.  You can read the entire post here. 

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Securities Class Action Suits

Worth reading:

In the law blog of Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, Ashby Jones asks if the “Golden Age” of such suits may be coming to an end.  You can read the full post here. 

Monday, January 04, 2010

NBC airs segment on Ford settlement: Lawyers get $25 million, plaintiffs get a coupon

During the summer, everyone from NJLRA and Walter Olson, to the  California Civil Justice Association (CJAC) and  Ralph Nader lamented the $25 million dollar settlement trial lawyers received in a class action lawsuit involving Ford Motor Company.  Nearly one million litigants who owned Ford Explorers in the 1990s argued that rollover risks diminished the resale value of their vehicles.  Coupons were available (via application), to the litigants, but were largely unusable. 

NBC Nightly News underscored this atrocity in during their Monday evening broadcast.  They aired a segment questioning the trial lawyers’ motivation behind this class action suit, and noted that the judge awarded the $25 million figure to the lawyers for their “exceptional skill.” 

You can listen to the NBC Nightly News Broadcast here, or on our Facebook page.