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8 posts from September 2012

Friday, September 28, 2012

Legislative Update

Assemblyman Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) introduced legislation which would give judges more discretion in cases involving the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. Under current law, the court is required to award threefold the damages sustained by any person in interest and attorneys’ fees, filing fees and reasonable costs if a violation occurs. This bill, A-3264, gives the court discretion in awarding damages. They would not be permitted to exceed three times the actual damages sustained by the consumer. The bill also provides that the consumer fraud act applies only to New Jersey residents and transactions that take place within the State. A-3264 has been referred to the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee. The full text can be found here, on the Legislature’s website.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Seeing Red All Over

Coppertone sensitive skinWhen red is the only color your skin turns, you tend to take note of the sunblock products that work.  After all, it’s a bit obvious when a particular line of sunscreen fails.  Pictured is one of my personal favorites, Coppertone’s sensitive skin SPF 50. 

But under New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act, what’s obvious to the consumer can have little bearing on the outcome.  New Jersey-based Merck just settled a longstanding class action lawsuit in which plaintiffs claim that the power of Coppertone was overstated in advertising, using words such as “waterproof,” “sweatproof,” and (shocker) “sunblock.” 

Originally developed by Schering-Plough, Merck acquired Coppertone (and its lawsuit) when it bought Schering in 2009.  The case was originally filed in 2003.  And consumers, like me, readily used Coppertone products in ignorant bliss in the interim, unaware that our UVA-protected skin wasn’t as protected as the attorneys in this case contend. 

Here’s how things will change under the settlement: Coppertone will stop using the words “sunblock,” “waterproof,” “sweatproof,” and “all day” on its labeling.  The content of the sunscreen will remain the same.  Yes, the same.  And under this $3- $10 million settlement, I will get $1.50.  According to Reuters, Merck stated that it agreed to the settlement “solely for the purpose of avoiding the burden, expense, risk and uncertainty of continuing to litigate those issues."

Nice of the lawyers to reward me with $1.50 for my patronage and leave my product formula intact.  Heck, for $1.50 I can get:

  • 3 postage stamps;
  • 1/3 of a latte;
  • One-way bus fare in Los Angeles

I can’t get a bottle of sunblock, but apparently that’s beside the point.

Now if only I could figure out how to collect. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Our legal system in a nutshell

Pearls before Swine Stephan Pastis_9.23.12
Stephan Pastis cartoon in Sunday's Star-Ledger

Friday, September 21, 2012

NJ is Treacherous Ground for Physicians: A Panel Discussion

Ten years ago the Medical Society of New Jersey (MSNJ) worked hard to enact meaningful medical liability reform in New Jersey.  Since then, court decisions have gutted key statutes and insurance premiums have skyrocketed.  We are now on the brink of a severe doctor shortage as other states enact liability reform and attract new physicians. 

MSNJ will be hosting a panel discussion on Thursday, September 27th with leading legislative and legal experts to discuss what can be done to combat the unique issues facing New Jersey’s doctors and their impact on public health. 

To register for this free event, please click here to visit the Medical Society’s website

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Legislative update: “Facebook” bill advances, but new cause of action remains

It’s a sign of the times.  Employers want to know who they’re “really” hiring.  So they began asking for social networking passwords for an intimate glimpse.

Prospective employees were being asked to login during interviewsStudents were being denied scholarships over content behind the privacy wall.  It became so widespread that several states, including Maryland, Illinois, California, and now New Jersey have or are in the process of passing legislation to ban it. 

The so-called “Facebook Bill” - S-1915 - advanced through the Senate Labor Committee, allowing many to breathe a sigh of relief as online privacy scores its first legislative victory.  But in New Jersey’s version, there’s a problem. 

Tucked away in Section 5, S-1915 would give current and prospective employees new grounds to sue businesses.  Casual conversation over the mere existence of a social networking page with a subordinate, for instance, would become a thing of the past. Forgetting that could cost employers tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees – and it also gives the disgruntled ex-employee or the unqualified job applicant unprecedented leverage over their employer. 

Senate President Sweeney expressed a willingness to hear the business community’s concerns, even though an amendment to remove the cause-of-action language in Section 5 failed to garner enough support.   

Thursday, September 13, 2012

NJCJI welcomes Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. to Annual Membership Luncheon

President Marcus Rayner greets Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean (R-Union) at NJCJI's annual Fall Membership Luncheon

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

U.S. Chamber: New Jersey’s Civil Justice System ranks in bottom half of states for third consecutive year

The most successful corporations in the United States view New Jersey's civil justice climate as worse than most, according to a study released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

General Counsels from the nation's leading employers said that thirty-one states do a better job of executing civil cases timely and fairly.

"What the Chamber's study tells us is that successful corporations are aware of New Jersey's reputation for attracting abusive lawsuits, and they're thinking twice before expanding here," said Marcus Rayner, president of the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute.  "Even though the economy has improved slightly, New Jersey is no better positioned to prevent abusive lawsuits from entering our court dockets than it was two years ago."

"New Jersey was once known as the nation's 'Medicine Chest' because so much of our economy is dependent upon the viability of our pharmaceutical companies and the life sciences.  Every dollar that is spent fighting frivolous litigation is a dollar that won't be used to strengthen our economy or invest in life-saving research."

The study can be found online on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's website: http://www.instituteforlegalreform.com/states.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Since it's peak convention season, now is the perfect time to REGISTER to VOTE!

While we’re all embroiled in patriotism (or nausea, depending on your perspective), now is the time to keep the momentum going and turn your sentiments into action.  The deadline to register to vote is October 16th, not Election Day.  Click here and follow prompts to register.