« January 2011 | Main | March 2011 »

11 posts from February 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011

Caught on Tape: “Some people fake slip and falls for a living.”

Abc_gma_leamy_110223_me
Fraudulent slip-and-fall duos have become so pervasive in the last three years that many stores are investing in hidden cameras to catch the perpetrators in the act. 

ABC’s Elizabeth Leamy reports on the spike in suspicious slip and fall claims.  Some of what the camera catches is amazing – from a man who buys a hot dog, then places it in a store isle so his accomplice can intentionally slip, to a woman who fixes her hair before lying down in artificial distress. 

The National Insurance Crime Bureau says that “suspicious claims” are up 24 percent from 2008. 

Leem notes this number could be even higher, because many businesses quietly pay off these claims to make them go away.  Even when fake falls are caught on tape, “fake slip and falls still have the effect of driving up prices for all of us,” she says. 

Jim Quiggle of the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud says that indeed, “some people fake slip and falls for a living.” 

 You can watch the report here, via ABC’s website

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What do North Carolina, Oklahoma, and North Dakota have in common?

Tort reformers in all three states had significant victories this week.

In North Carolina, S-33 would cap noneconomic awards in malpractice cases at $100,000.  It was advancing to the full Senate for a vote as of Thursday. 

A similar piece of legislation passed the full Senate in Oklahoma.  S-863 would cap noneconomic damages at $250,000

Meanwhile, in North Dakota, progress was made in the judicial branch.  A group of thirteen out-of-state plaintiffs had filed a product liability suit in North Dakota, which has one of the longest statutes of limitation in the country.  The state Supreme Court ruled in favor of the defendant in Vicknair v. Phelps Dodge.  Several groups, including NFIB and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, argued that the statute of limitations from the plaintiffs’ home states should be applied, not the more plaintiff-friendly statute of limitations in North Dakota. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Governor: NJ will double R&D tax credit

Governor Chris Christie’s budget address included several tax cut proposals, the first of which would be significant to one of New Jersey’s signature industries: pharmaceuticals. 

“We will double our State Research and Development Tax credit to encourage High Tech and Bio-Tech entrepreneurs to create their next great discovery, and the jobs that go with it, right here in New Jersey,” he said. 

New Jersey’s pharmaceutical companies have been shedding jobs over the past few years, according to the Healthcare Institute of New Jersey. Doubling New Jersey’s Research and Development Tax credit, as encouraging as it is, address our hemorrhaging of pharmaceutical jobs in part.  Imagine how much further this proposal would reach if coupled with meaningful tort reform legislation to address the assault on the industry by the trial bar

A-3333, which would reform New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act, comes to mind.  After all, why should New Jersey settle for “Hellhole” status when it has the potential to host High Tech and Bio-Tech entrepreneurship? 

The prepared text of the Governor’s budget address is available here

Governor’s budget address today at 2 p.m. EST

You can listen to Governor Christie’s budget address live via NJN

Friday, February 18, 2011

A-3333 gains support

Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose (R-Sussex) signed on as a cosponsor of A-3333, increasing the total number of sponsors and cosponsors to seven.  She joins primary sponsors Assemblymen John McKeon (D-Essex), Ralph Caputo (D-Essex), and Domenick DiCicco (R-Glouster), and cosponsors Assemblywomen Amy Handlin (R-Monmouth), Mila Jasey (D-Essex), and Elease Evans (D-Passaic). 

A-3333 calls for reforms to New Jersey’s oft-abused Consumer Fraud Act (CFA).  If enacted, A-3333 would do the following:

  • The individual cause of action provided for under the CFA would be available only to a “consumer,” who is defined as an individual and specifically excludes businesses;
  • Require that a plaintiff relied to his detriment on the use or employment of the unlawful method, act, or practice;
  •  Give the court the discretion to award damages appropriately, not to exceed three times the amount of actual damages sustained by the consumer;
  • Provide that the CFA applies only to transactions which occur in New Jersey.

More information about New Jersey’s CFA is available on NJLRA’s website

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Read NJLRA’s letter-to-the-editor in this week’s edition of NJBIZ

Trial lawyers need a new hobby / Marcus Rayner

Excerpt:

New Jersey earned its reputation as the nation’s “medicine chest” many years ago. If you live here, chances are good that you know someone who is employed directly by a pharmaceutical company or indirectly through service contracts.

Read entire letter on the NJBIZ website. 

Merck wins round one in Fosamax case

New Jersey-based drug maker Merck achieved the improbable: it won a case in New Jersey’s hottest “Judicial Hellhole.”

The Star-Ledger reports that 9 out of the 10 jurors in an Atlantic County Superior Courtroom didn’t believe Merck’s osteoporosis drug Fosamax was the source of a Pennsylvania woman’s jawbone condition, called osteonecrosis.   Merck’s lawyers argued that the plaintiff’s extensive dental problems and a steroid she used may have been to blame. 

Nearly 300 lawsuits are involved in the mass tort case.  It was an important first victory, even if it is one the plaintiff’s attorneys will almost certainly appeal. 

Atlantic County, New Jersey, was named by the American Tort Reform Association as one of the nation’s Judicial Hellholes in 2009.   

Monday, February 14, 2011

Which state is the most litigious in the nation? New Jersey, of course…

NJLRA’s former chair, Taysen Van Itallie, underscores just how serious New Jersey’s “Sue Me” image has gotten in the New Jersey Law Journal.

New Jersey had 10,579 new civil cases in 2008 – more than twice as many filed in Illinois, a state with a larger population. 

It begs the question: how exactly can we make our state more attractive to businesses without addressing the tort situation? 

“Businesses of all sizes are sensitive to a state’s lawsuit climate.  Let’s be sure we have a plan to improve ours,” writes Van Itallie. 

You can read his entire op-ed in the New Jersey Law Journal here

Thursday, February 10, 2011

NJLRA Statement on the Congressional Civil Justice Caucus

A new bipartisan issue caucus in Congress was announced today- the Congressional Civil Justice Caucus, which will focus on legal reform issues.   NJLRA is excited, to say the least. 

I applaud Congressmen Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Dan Boren (D-OK) for taking the lead on this issue at the Congressional level.  It’s helpful to have a bipartisan caucus focus on advancing a civil justice system conducive to the United States’ global economic competitiveness. 

Here in New Jersey -  a state where consumers have neither an obligation to ask for a refund before taking a business to court, nor to have encountered actual fraud in order to sue under the state Consumer Fraud Act - the Caucus carries a special significance for us.  It shows the hardworking men and women of our state that members of Congress are willing to carry our fight against lawsuit abuse to the highest levels of government.  Knowing that we have support as we try to stop the hemorrhaging of our key industries is invaluable. 

Most importantly, the Congressional Civil Justice Caucus gives us the opportunity to expose the target that the pharmaceutical industry has on its back in our state.  In the last year New Jersey shed 7.6 percent of its pharmaceutical jobs, due in part to litigation tourism by the trial bar.  Instead of the nation’s “Medicine Chest,” we are becoming a national leader in pharmaceutical job exportation. 

Ninety-three percent (93%) of the mass tort plaintiffs in New Jersey suing our pharmaceutical companies are out-of-state residents seeking the use of our plaintiff-friendly laws.  This is an unacceptable situation we must correct in order to achieve solid economic growth.  I am hopeful that the Caucus will push for reforms similar to A-3333, sponsored by Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Essex) in states where the Consumer Fraud Act encourages abuse. 

New Jersey is quickly losing ground to other states which have enacted common sense tort reform measures.  I encourage all members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation to support the Civil Justice Caucus and participate in this bipartisan forum. 

Monday, February 07, 2011

What do taxpayers in New Jersey and Louisiana have in common?

We’re paying for lawsuits. Lots of them. 

The Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch (LLAW) released a study which found that eight of the state’s municipalities spent a collective $52 million fighting lawsuits between 2006 and 2009.  $37 million was spent in the form of judgments and settlements; $14.9 went to outside counsel. 

That’s $52 million.  In eight towns.  In just three years!

You may recall a Lawsuit Reform Watch post from April 2010, in which the cash-strapped city of Irvington, New Jersey, faced the loss of 20 police officers and 10 firefighters to help close a $5 million budget shortfall.  This announcement from Mayor Wayne Smith came days before an appellate court rejected the city’s attempt to have its insurance company cover a $5 million personal injury suit. 

Melissa Landry, executive director of LLAW, acknowledged that some lawsuits are legitimate, but that some “are filed purely in search of enrichment from the lawsuit lottery.  At a time when Louisiana, like most other states, are struggling, the public’s financial resources could have made an impact elsewhere: preserving the jobs of law enforcement personnel. 

The report, “Drinking from the Taxpayer Trough” can be found here.     

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Daily Show’s Lewis Black on the Taco Bell Lawsuit

“It’s not like you eat it when you’re sober…” 

Lewis Black’s satirical segment, “Back in Black,” takes on the class-action lawsuit filed against Taco Bell

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Back in Black - Meat Edition
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog</a> The Daily Show on Facebook

 

The Alabama law firm representing the plaintiffs says that Taco Bell’s meat is only 36 percent beef – short of the 40 percent beef requirement set by the USDA.  Taco Bell counters that it’s actually 88 percent beef.  Much thanks to Lewis Black & the Daily Show for casting light on this lawsuit!