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17 posts from February 2014

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ending the Shareholder Lawsuit Gravy Train

Justin Fox | Harvard Business Review Blog Network

The Supreme Court is going to host a debate next week on the efficient market hypothesis. The battle lines may not be exactly what you’d expect: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Justice Samuel Alito have already argued that the EMH is, as Alito put it, “a faulty economic premise,” while Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the Obama administration have backed the idea that, as a sextet of Justice Department lawyers put it, “markets process publicly available information about a company into the company’s stock price.”

Full Story.

Christie Outlines Budget Priorities

On February 26, Gov. Christie delivered his budget address to a joint session of the legislature, officially kicking off negotiations on the state’s FY 2015 budget. The legislature’s focus for the next few months will essentially be on the budget, as it must be passed by July 1.


Continue reading "Christie Outlines Budget Priorities" »

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Top News Clips for the Week of Feb. 15-21

A selection of the need-to-know civil justice news for the week of February 15-21, 2014.

Continue reading "Top News Clips for the Week of Feb. 15-21" »

Parlaying the Courts

Filling a lawsuit is always a gamble since the odds are never certain, but for these litigants what’s at stake is gambling.


Continue reading "Parlaying the Courts " »

Class Action Update

Thanks to its plaintiff-friendly procedural rules and broad consumer protection laws, New Jersey is a hotbed of class action litigation. These four cases provide just a snapshot of the sort of cases coming to the New Jersey courts as class actions, highlighting the challenges judges face in overseeing this sort litigation.

Continue reading "Class Action Update" »

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Chief Justice Rabner to Keynote NJCJI Luncheon

The New Jersey Civil Justice Institute is excited to announce that the Honorable Stuart Rabner, Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, will deliver remarks at the Institute’s Spring 2014 Membership Luncheon. The event will also include an update on NJCJI's legislative efforts, upcoming events, and our expanding work in the courts.

The event will be held on Wednesday, March 19th from 12:00 - 2:00 PM at the Trenton Country Club.

Register Now

Interested in Serving on a Committee? The New Jersey Supreme Court Wants to Know.

The New Jersey Supreme Court is soliciting applications from attorneys and judges interested in serving on one of the court’s various committees.  

“The list of committees for which the Court is seeking to create this pool of potential appointees includes, but is not limited to, the Rules Committees (Civil Practice, Complementary Dispute Resolution, Criminal Practice, Family Practice, Municipal Court Practice, Rules of Evidence, Special Civil Part Practice, Tax Court), the Program and Jury Charge Committees (Arbitration Advisory, Bench/Bar/Media, Jury Selection in Civil and Criminal Trials, Minority Concerns, Model Civil Jury Charges, Model Criminal Jury Charges, State Domestic Violence Working Group, Women in the Courts), as well as the various regulatory and advisory committees (including Attorney Advertising Committee, Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics, Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee, Disciplinary Review Board, Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, Board on Continuing Legal Education, Board on Attorney Certification, Advisory Committee on Extrajudicial Activities, Advisory Committee on Outside Activities of Judiciary Employees ). It also includes present and future ad hoc committees or task forces.”

Click here to read the court’s full announcement.

Bridgegate Update

The Bridgegate scandal continues to dominate the New Jersey political scene, drawing the media’s and the legislature’s attention away from other issues. The ripple effects of the investigation are being felt well beyond the legislature as the number and scope of subpoenas increases.

Continue reading "Bridgegate Update" »

Ridiculous Lawsuits

I can hear the television commercial now: “Did you suffer emotional damage when Michael Jackson died? You may be eligible for compensation.”

Continue reading "Ridiculous Lawsuits" »

Pharmaceutical Litigation Makes Headlines

While only earning a spot on the Judicial Hellholes “watch list” last year, a look at this week’s top news stories suggests New Jersey may be back on the full-on Hellhole list next year thanks to the horde of pharmaceutical lawsuits currently playing out in the state.

Continue reading "Pharmaceutical Litigation Makes Headlines" »

Top News Clips for the Week of Feb. 8-14

A selection of the need-to-know civil justice news for the week of February 8-14, 2014.

The Plot to Make Big Food Pay

Helena Bottemiller Evich | Politico

Lawyers are pitching state attorneys general in 16 states with a radical idea: make the food industry pay for soaring obesity-related health care costs.

It’s a move straight from the playbook of the Big Tobacco takedown of the 1990s, which ended in a $246 billion settlement with 46 states, a ban on cigarette marketing to young people and the Food and Drug Administration stepping in to regulate.

Full Story.


Debate Resumes Over Shortening Legal Malpractice Suit Time Limits

David Gialanella | New Jersey Law Journal

A renewed effort to chop New Jersey's legal malpractice statute of limitations down to two years from the current six is underway in the Legislature.

Lawyers debated the issue along familiar battle lines at a meeting of the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Monday, though no vote was taken.

The bill, A-1254, is the latest push in a legislative effort that began six years ago.

The change would put the legal malpractice time restriction in sync with that of medical malpractice and align New Jersey with other states where aggrieved clients have less time to sue.

Full Story.


NRA Gets Behind NJ Man's Lawsuit Challenging State's Gun Carry Restrictions, Group Says

Seth Augenstein | The Star-Ledger

The National Rifle Association is supporting a Sussex County man's lawsuit seeking a permit to carry his handgun outside of his house, the organization announced this week.

The national lobbying group said it was backing John Drake’s lawsuit with a forthcoming amicus brief, in support of Second-Amendment rights in New Jersey, the organization said. Drake, and other plaintiffs involved in the lawsuit, petitioned last month to have their case heard in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Full Story.


Statute Regulating Step-Down Provisions Does Not Apply Retroactively

Debra McLoughlin | New Jersey Law Journal

In Pinto v. New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Co., the N.J. Supreme Court enforced a commercial motor vehicle liability policy's "step-down" provision, which capped uninsured- or underinsured-motorist coverage (UM/UIM coverage) provided through an employer's commercial policy to employees and other qualifying insureds at the limits available through their personal automobile insurance coverage.

Two years later, N.J.S.A. 17:28-1.1(f) was enacted, prohibiting in motor vehicle liability policies issued to corporate or business entities the use of step-down provisions to provide less UM/UIM coverage for employees than is provided to the named insureds. Further, if the policy lists only the business entity as the named insured, employees are deemed eligible for maximum available coverage. This new legislation, signed into law on Sept. 10, 2007, specified that it was effective immediately.

This appeal involved the application of N.J.S.A. 17:28-1.1(f) to a policy that was in effect at the time the legislation became effective and contained a step-down provision. The court addressed the statute's retroactivity, that is whether the step-down provision is enforceable for a UIM claim by an employee concerning an accident that occurred prior to the adoption of N.J.S.A. 17:28-1.1(f).

Full Story.


'Disparate Impact' Doctrine Often Hurts Those it's Intended to Help

Michael Barone | Washington Examiner

Disparate impact. That's a phrase you don't hear much in everyday conversation. But it's the shorthand description of a legal doctrine with important effects on everyday American life -- and more if Barack Obama and his political allies get their way.

Consider the Department of Justice and Department of Education policies on school discipline. In a “dear colleague” letter distributed last month, the departments noted that “students of certain racial or ethnic groups tend to be disciplined more than their peers.”

Full Story.


Garlock Ruling Gives Asbestos Defendants Discovery Hammer

Sindhu Sundar | Law360

A bankruptcy judge recently allowed Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC to root out the type of evidence suppression defendants have long suspected of asbestos plaintiffs, handing companies ammunition to probe foul play by their adversaries and persuading other courts to allow the investigations.

For years, defendants have accused asbestos plaintiffs of withholding evidence about claims they've filed against other companies. By disingenuously claiming they only have claims against a single company, plaintiffs were able to maximize their recovery, defense attorneys have argued.

Full Story.


Busting the Asbestos Racket

Opinion | Wall Street Journal

The worst public scandals are often those that travel in plain sight, and a prime example is the asbestos litigation racket. We've been writing about it for years, and now a judge in North Carolina has issued a remarkable opinion exposing just how rotten it is.

Full Story.


Christie Should Keep Rabner as Supreme Court Chief Justice: Opinion

Ralph J. Lamparello | Star Ledger

Last month, in his State of the State address, Gov. Chris Christie apologized to the people of New Jersey for actions taken regarding lane closures on the George Washington Bridge.

The governor acknowledged that as the leader of the state, he is responsible for its achievements and its missteps. He uttered the phrase so many before him have said: “Mistakes were clearly made.”

While the governor was referring to the Bridge­gate controversy, parallels can be drawn to his actions toward the judicial branch — our third, separate and co-equal branch of government.

Full Story.


Thursday, February 06, 2014

Shortening the Statute of Limitations for Certain Malpractice Actions

On Monday, February 10 the Assembly Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Assembly Bill 1254, which would shorten the statute of limitations from 6 years to 2 years for various malpractice actions.

The bill would set the statute of limitations at 2 years for malpractice actions against the following licensed professionals: accountants, architects, attorneys, dentists, engineers, physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors, registered nurses, health care facilities, physical therapists, land surveyors, registered pharmacists, veterinarians, insurance producers, midwives, pharmacy sites, and certain contractors, subcontractors and owners.

The bill also prohibits the award of attorneys’ fees in actions against these professionals except where authorized by statute or the New Jersey Rules of Court.

NJCJI supports this bill.

New Economic Analysis of FDA’s Proposed Generic Drug Labeling Rule Released

The New Jersey Civil Justice Institute has been closely monitoring the FDA’s proposed rules that would allow generic drug manufacturers to make changes to their labels. NJCJI is concerned that such a rule would greatly increase the number of lawsuits filed against generic pharmaceutical manufacturers thus raising the cost of generic drugs and clogging up the court system.

Continue reading "New Economic Analysis of FDA’s Proposed Generic Drug Labeling Rule Released " »

Lawyer’s Unconventional Super Bowl Ad Goes Viral

A Georgia attorney took plaintiffs attorney advertising to a whole new level with this Super Bowl ad.


Paulsboro Freight Train Derailment Lawsuit Highlights NJCJI Concerns with New Jersey Court System

Reforming New Jersey’s standards for expert testimony continues to be a top priority for the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute, and a recent ruling in the ongoing Paulsboro freight train derailment lawsuit highlights the issue.

30 of the nearly 100 plaintiffs in the Paulsboro litigation have had their cases removed to New Jersey state court after pleading a lack of complete diversity. Though diversity is the stated concern, it is not the full story, as the plaintiffs have attempted multiple times to have the all of the claims heard in state court.

A recent article in the New Jersey Law Journal by David Gialanella suggests that the actual reason state court is preferred is the state’s rules of evidence:

New Jersey state court is considered a superior forum for plaintiffs alleging injuries from toxic exposure, due to its "adversarial" standard of admissibility of scientific evidence. Judges rely on the parties to produce the evidence and testimony needed. It's different in federal court, where judges are empowered to make their own investigations into the sufficiency of expert testimony.

If both the state and federal cases go to trial, court watchers will have a clear look at how expert testimony differs in response to the differing rules of evidence.


Top News Clips for the Week of Feb. 1-7

A selection of the need-to-know civil justice news for the week of February 1-7, 2014.

Continue reading "Top News Clips for the Week of Feb. 1-7" »

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Proposed Changes to Federal Discovery Rules

The Federal Judiciary’s Civil Rules Advisory Committee (the “Rules Committee”) is currently accepting public comments on a package of proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Some of the most important changes in the package are aimed at reducing the cost and burdens associated with discovery.


As former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl explained in a recent Wall Street Journal Editorial:


The three most important committee proposals are: (1) a clear national standard that says companies could be punished for discarding information only if they did so in bad faith to hamper litigation; (2) a narrower scope of discovery that focuses on the claims and defenses of each case rather than any information that might lead to admissible evidence; and (3) confirming judicial authority under Rule 26(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to allocate the costs of discovery to the party requesting discovery rather than the party responding. A "requester-pays" system lets a party decide to pay and get certain information if it really needs it. It also eliminates the temptation to make overly broad requests to impose costs on the other side to coerce a settlement.


If approved, these changes would be a first step toward significantly reducing litigation costs and trial delays. As such, the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute is developing comments in support of the proposed changes, and will be submitting them to the Rules Committee for its consideration. We urge you to do the same. Most of the comments received thus far have been provided by the plaintiffs' bar, which is generally critical of the proposed amendments as favoring defendants and corporations.


Comments must be submitted by 11:59 PM ET on February 15, 2014. Click here and then scroll to the bottom of the page for instructions on how to submit comments.


If approved by the Rules Committee, the proposed amendments will be submitted to the Judicial Conference with a recommendation for approval, who in turn submits the proposals to the Supreme Court. If approved by the Supreme Court, Congress has seven months to approve or reject the new rules.


Additional Resources:

Draft Rules & Request for Comments

Comments Submitted via Regulations.gov

The 2013 “Package” of Federal Discovery Rule Amendments: Thomas Y. Allman, Jan. 30, 2014. Mr. Allman is a former General Counsel and currently serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Cincinnati College Of Law.   He is Chair Emeritus of the Sedona Conference WG 1 on E-Discovery and a former Chair of the E-Discovery Committee of Lawyers for Civil Justice.

A Rare Chance to Lower Litigation Costs (Opinion by Former Sen. Kyl): The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 20, 2014.

Archive of selected news articles on the rule change provided by Lawyers for Civil Justice

Lawyers for Civil Justice Briefing Points on Proposed FRCP Changes 1.3.14

Lawyers for Civil Justice Backgrounder - Proposed FRCP Changes

Lawyers for Civil Justice Backgrounder - The FRCP Rulemaking Process