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5 posts from October 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

NJLRA @ Mercer Chamber of Commerce Small Business Expo

Buttons     Mercer chamber tabling

Thursday, October 27, 2011

U.S. Chamber: Tort Reform Would Create 35,000 – 94,000 Jobs in New Jersey

Want to see New Jersey's unemployment rate drop by up to 2.3%?

Tort reform would bring a welcome infusion of cash and jobs into New Jersey’s struggling economy, according to a report issued by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform. 

New Jersey could save as much as $1.7 billion if comprehensive tort reform is enacted, according to the study, which measured New Jersey’s tort activity index.  A decrease in the state’s index would also yield between 35,000 and 94,000 new jobs, nudging the state’s unemployment rate down from 9.2% to 8.35% - 6.9%.    Litigation costs would drop by as much as 21.5%. 

“The correlation between tort reform and economic growth is evident,” said Marcus Rayner, executive director of the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance.  “This study demonstrates that the economic growth New Jersey so desperately needs can be spurred with common-sense tort reform.  

“$1.7 billion reinvested in our economy will help put people back to work and help New Jersey reclaim its economic footing.  Civil justice reform is a way to capture the money we waste on lawyer’s fees and litigation costs – without raising taxes or cutting essential services.” 

A state’s tort index is comprised of the number of tort claims filed annually, the frequency of major verdict awards, and the concentration of attorneys practicing in the state. 

A link to the study can be found on our website and via the U.S. Chamber.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

NJLRA will be at the Mercer County Chamber of Commerce Fall Business Expo today! Come by and say hello!

Sun National Bank Center

81 Hamilton Avenue

Trenton, NJ 08611

10:00am – 3:00pm

Monday, October 17, 2011

Waning public resources could restrict access to our states’ courts, ABA President warns

Statehouses across the country are grappling with budget deficits and declining revenue.  We’ve all heard of successful programs meeting their demise due to an absence of funding.  Crippling budgetary trade-offs being made to our educational system, law enforcement, and the like have become so commonplace that they barely raise eyebrows in disbelief. 

What we’ve heard less about is the economic downturn’s impact on a key cornerstone in our democracy: justice. 

Layoffs, furloughs, and unfilled judicial vacancies eventually leave their mark on our judicial system.  The American Bar Association’s Task Force on Preservation of the Justice System found that civil cases have been the hardest hit by budget cuts.  Typical civil cases include everything from child custody and divorce to employee compensation. 

In the past few months, we’ve had a patron pursue a lawsuit against restaurant for injuries he sustained while driving his motorcycle drunk all the way up to the State Supreme Court; a lifeguard sue for age discrimination just before he retired; a patient who fell asleep while polishing a gun sue his doctor; and a woman who filed suit against ABC, claiming to be “severely damaged” after the station read the wrong winning lottery numbers

These are the types of cases pushing back court dates for issues that matter.  These are the types of cases being vetted when resources thin and demand for the court’s services grow.  And yes, these all happened here in New Jersey

“All of us must have and protect our right and our freedom to use courtrooms when we need to…That courtroom must be open to protect families…to validate and protect contracts for business...” said newly elected ABA President Wm. T. Robinson III at a symposium in Kentucky. 

Spreading ever-thinning public funds around may be a new reality for the foreseeable future.  But compromising access to justice is one sacrifice Americans shouldn’t have to make. 

No matter what the trial lawyers tell you, filing a frivolous lawsuit isn’t a victimless crime. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ocean City's Legal Woes: $250,000 and Counting

If you receive NJLRA’s weekly email, you may have read Douglas Bergen’s reports in the Ocean City Patch: Ocean City Pays Lifeguard $50,000 in Secret Lawsuit Settlement and Ocean City Pays More Than $200,000 to End Firefighter Lawsuit

The first of these settlements went to Michael Hamilton, 67-year-old lifeguard who failed the half-mile running portion of a requalification test.   Hamilton acknowledged that he was planning to retire anyway.  Nevertheless, he found an attorney to take his age-discrimination case against the City and share in the payout. 

The second, which was resolved on September 29th (less than one month after Hamilton’s suit), was filed by former firefighter Mark McCulley, who dually served as the Department’s paymaster.  McCulley’s situation is more sympathetic, but a taxpayer might wonder if sympathy should come with a $220,000 price tag. 

Atlantic County Municipal Joint Insurance Fund insures Ocean City (which is part of Cape May County).  The City has half a dozen other lawsuits which it will need to address in the coming months, either by settlement or trial.  Douglas Bergen observes that Ocean City’s taxpayers “likely will bear the brunt of the settlement payments.”

When a municipality of fewer than 12,000 residents is willing to pay a quarter of a million dollars on two legal claims in order to avoid going to court – one of which was arguably ridiculous – it demonstrates just how high the stakes are for New Jersey’s 566 towns and cities. Civil justice reform isn’t a mere fancy of the private sector.