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9 posts from April 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Co$t of bullying

Many of New Jersey’s school districts have maintained that New Jersey’s bipartisan anti-bullying law, while well-intentioned, is a costly unfunded mandate.  A state panel agreed, which prompted the law’s sponsors and Governor Christie to allocate $1 million to the state’s local school districts in order to help them pay for staffing and training. 

As the Gloucester County Times pointed out in an editorial earlier this month, $1 million spread over 612 school districts isn’t likely to quell the districts’ concerns regarding the law’s cost. 

And as NJLRA points out in a letter-to-the-editor, with so many bureaucratic nuisances, litigation is all but assured. 

“It ought to be possible to have an effective anti-bullying strategy in each of our schools without breaking anyone’s bank,” the GC Times wrote.

New Jersey needs a strong anti-bullying law. But with respect to this particular law, the bleeding has only begun.

Read NJLRA’s letter here

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Keep it civil or keep it on your side of the Hudson

Political discourse reached another low this week, as a New York-based group of trial lawyers all but accused NJLRA and its members of being responsible for the tragic death of Trayvon Martin (nevermind that at least one NJLRA’er immediately donned a hoodie and signed petitions calling for his killer’s arrest). 

It’s not unusual for large corporations to join a plethora of advocacy organizations and associations, but of course “Call-Me if-You’ve-Been-Hurt-by-Anything” didn’t let this truth get in the way.  In their mind, somehow this equates to an endorsement of ALEC’s agenda. 

And with a fair amount of gender-baiting, they single out three pharmaceutical companies, all with a strong New Jersey presence, and all of which have produced life-enhancing drugs for men and women for generations.  Their argument (or lack thereof) seems to hinge on the quantity of reproductive drugs and devices (too many versus too few) instead of accessibility or affordability, and ignores the fact that the more resources these companies spend fighting frivolous legal claims, the fewer resources are available for innovation and the product development so many people depend upon.

If you want to have an honest conversation about legal reform and its importance to New Jersey’s economy and public health, let’s have one.  But seriously, leave Trayvon Martin and his grieving family alone. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

48 hours after a fender-bender...

It was a fender-bender...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Insanity, behold the courts!

Einstein famously said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. 

Yet, that’s the legal tactic trial lawyers have employed against Merck, one of the state’s leading employers.

At issue is whether Fosamax, a drug designed to prevent osteoporosis, caused osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ). 

Juries are unconvinced.  Six bellweather cases have gone to trial, and Merck is currently on a five-case winning streak.  Its only hiccup was the first Fosomax case, which ended in a mistrial.  (A subsequent trial awarded the plaintiff $8 million in damages, which was later reduced to $1.5.  The plaintiff’s attorneys have asked for a new trial on damages, which is scheduled for September).

Despite being 1-for-6, there are still 2,345 state and federal Fosamax product liability cases pending against Merck.  It’s insanity yielding to a let’s-keep-trying-until-we-get-it-right offensive.  After all, no matter how insane it seems to continue to pursue such cases, there really isn’t a downside for plaintiffs’ attorneys – just Merck, its employees, and those who rely on it for life-saving drugs. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Cuts to the courts make their way into our homes

You know it’s serious when legal reformers and trial lawyers agree.

Legal reformers consistently argue that when the publicly-financed civil court system is inundated with absurd litigation, the brakes are put on justice for everyone else. 

Child custody cases, divorces, landlord-tenant disputes, and temporary restraining orders sought by battered women must compete for the same day in court as the guy who sues the bar after crashing his motorcycle in a drunken stupor and the woman who spills hot coffee on her lap. 

And that day in court, of course, is underwritten by taxpayers.  So when funding is cut to the judicial branch, as it was in 42 states last year, the pace of justice slows considerably.

"The impact on people in great distress, such as abused women seeking temporary restraining orders, is beyond measure in money," says Jon Streeter, president of the State Bar of California.

The simplest divorce cases can now take a year to resolve in some states.  “Such delays are not just creating inconvenience for people trying to claim money from landlords or tenants, or fight traffic tickets.  Court cuts are hitting people where they live,” writes Alan Greenblatt for NPR

Criminal cases take precedence over civil cases, of course. But that’s hardly comforting to the everyday Americans who need the civil court system to protect them or make them whole.  One circuit in Georgia stopped hearing civil cases altogether. 

Backlog in states have become so significant that Institute for Legal Reform President Lisa Rickard and American Bar Association President Bill Robinson III pleaded with lawmakers to take cuts to the judiciary seriously.  "When states financially starve their judiciaries, they inadvertently create environments toxic to economic growth," they wrote in an op-ed in USA TODAY. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

NJCJI Welcomes Alida Kass

Alida Kass joined the NJCJI team this week as Special Counsel for Alliance Development.  Prior to NJCJI, she taught as an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Law Center.  She also worked on Capitol Hill as a Legislative Assistant for Representative Christopher Cox, where she handled commerce and judicial issues. 

Ms. Kass graduated from Duke University with a degree in history, and earned her J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center.  A member of the New Jersey bar, she resides in Chatham, where she serves on the Borough Board of Adjustment. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Auto insurance reform worked. Why not legal reform? #legalreform @lougreenwald #nj

Ewing-20120410-00088There was a time when auto insurance premiums topped New Jerseyans’ list of complaints about life in the Garden State.  Today, a decade after comprehensive reform, it doesn’t crack the top ten. 

Noting the growth of NJCJI and our affiliates since our inception in 2007, Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald suggested legal reform could follow a similar course in New Jersey. 

New Jersey’s small businesses, particularly those located in Southern New Jersey, have experienced increased financial strain from rising liability insurance over the past few years.  Municipal governments are also feeling the effect of an overheated culture of litigation.   Irrespective of the merits or outcome, taxpayers foot the bill when a lawsuit is filed against local governments.  It’s not exactly the kind of investment one hopes for with his or her property tax bill. 

Click here for a list of active, bipartisan legislation which can improve New Jersey’s civil justice climate for taxpayers, businesses of all sizes, and the medical community and their patients. 

Friday, April 06, 2012

Read NJCJI’s op-ed in The Daily Record

Lawsuit reform would boost industry

If you are a New Jersey resident, there is a good chance that you know someone who is employed by one of the 24 pharmaceutical and medical technology companies which have crowned us the nation’s  medicine chest. Some 51,000 residents earn their livelihood at one of these entities, which produce everything from life-saving drugs to baby shampoo. Another 70,000 New Jersey residents collect paychecks from the industry through service contracts.

Our status as the nation’s medicine chest has roots in this area stemming as far back as the Industrial Revolution. Since then, New Jersey’s highly-skilled workforce, transportation hubs, and infrastructure have captured the industry in a natural embrace: the medicine chest companies and their offspring had an economic impact of $24.2 billion in 2010 alone.

Click here to read the entire op-ed in The Daily Record.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Join Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald on April 10th!

Greenwald_colorAssembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald will be the keynote speaker at NJCJI’s annual Spring Membership Luncheon.  He will be joined by Paul Matey, Deputy Chief Counsel to Governor Christie

The luncheon will be hosted by our friends at the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers, who are long-time NJCJI members.  Their facility is located at 856 River Road, Trenton, 08628.  The program will begin at noon. 

There is no charge for this event, but preregistration is required.  Please click here to RSVP