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Thursday, October 07, 2010

New Jersey’s small business owners have spoken: 7 in 10 have had enough

New Jersey’s small business owners say that the state's business climate is bleak. 

What do they want? Tort reform.  Now. 

NJLRA conducted a survey of New Jersey’s small business owners in conjunction with the Monmouth University Polling Institute.  A wide-range of industries were surveyed: construction and manufacturing (29%), food, travel and entertainment (23%), retail trade (22%), and other services industries (26%). 

Some of the businesses have been in existence for over twenty years; others have been in business for five years or less.  But whether they employ less than four employees (34% of them do) or have 25 or more (9%), their voices sounded a unified message: enough with the lawsuits. 

70% of New Jersey’s small businesses agree that the state’s liability laws make it less attractive than other states to do business in. 

One-in-five small businesses say that a lawsuit was filed against them by a client or customer in the last 5 years, and another 9% say they were threatened with one.  One-in-three small businesses wouldn’t be surprised if they are sued in the next five years. 

Why are small businesses being sued?  Our respondents say the following are major drivers:

  • 79% say that advertising from personal injury lawyers contribute;
  • 72% say that a large cash settlement is a key motivator;
  • 68% say that misunderstandings are taken to court too quickly (see Bosland vs. Warnock Dodge).

And according to the survey, the greater a company’s revenue, the greater the chance it has been sued.

The majority (55%) of small business owners say that reforming our liability laws would improve New Jersey’s business climate.  Considering that 20% of them have seriously considered leaving the state – and taking their jobs, taxes, and client base with them – it’s time our elected officials listen. 

Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-Monmouth) joined NJLRA executive director Marcus Rayner at a press conference encouraging her colleagues to do exactly that.  “New Jersey consumers are the ultimate victims of this overly litigious culture,” she said. “When any businessperson can be dragged into court on any day, for virtually any reason, it chokes off innovation, expansion and competition."

“In a weak economy, New Jersey should be doing all it can to improve our State’s business climate and create jobs,” said Marcus Rayner.  “Our small businesses are crying out, and the message they’re sending us clear: New Jersey needs to get serious about tort reform.

The full survey results and NJLRA’s press release are available on our website


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