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14 posts from March 2014

Friday, March 28, 2014

Snow Contractors Lobby Legislators for Common Sense Legal Reform

NJCJI played host to the New Jersey contingent of the Accredited Snow Contractors Association this week when ASCA came to the New Jersey State House to lobby legislators on the need for liability reform that protects their businesses from frivolous slip and fall lawsuits.

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NJCJI’s Crash Course in Civil Justice Reform a Success

On Wednesday, March 26, 2014, NJCJI hosted a training session on civil justice reform for legislative staff, government affairs professionals, and other interested parties. The event featured remarks from NJCJI staff, practicing attorneys, and the business community, all focusing on what civil justice reform actually is and why it is important.

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The Legislative Trend That’s Increasing Your Liability: Fee-Shifting

Fee-shifting provisions are showing up in proposed legislation in New Jersey with increasing frequency. These provisions, which allow prevailing plaintiffs to recover attorney’s fees and court costs, encourage frivolous litigation, discourage settlement, and drive up the cost of lawsuits.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

NJCJI Files Brief in Malpractice Insurance Case

The New Jersey Civil Justice Institute has filed a motion to participate as amicus curiae in DeMarco v. Stoddard. The issue in the case is whether the rule for third party recovery that applies in the automobile context should be extended to medical malpractice absent statutory foundation, thereby requiring a malpractice insurer to underwrite a claim against a doctor who lied in order to get insurance coverage.

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Rabner Details Ways Business Community Can Get Involved With Courts at NJCJI Luncheon

Chief Justice Stuart Rabner was the featured speaker at NJCJI’s Spring Luncheon on March 19. During his remarks, Rabner stressed the administrative role of the courts and discussed ways in which the business community can get more involved with the justice system.

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Top News Clips for the Week of March 8-14

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


Flushability of Wipes Spawns Class-Action Lawsuit

U-Jin Lee | ABC News

A New York doctor has filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the makers of "flushable" wipes after experiencing what he claims were major plumbing and clogging issues in his home.

“The defendants should have known that their representations regarding flushable wipes were false and misleading,” the complaint states.

The lawsuit by Dr. Joseph Kurtz, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., cites Kimberly-Clark and Costco Wholesale corporations and seeks damages of at least $5 million.

Full Story.



An Elected Attorney General? Lawmaker Wants to Let Voters Choose, Not Christie

Matt Friedman | The Star-Ledger

Some now say the time has come to make New Jersey’s top law enforcement official more responsive to the public and less beholden to the governor, and one lawmaker has introduced a measure to do just that. The issue has taken on added urgency with the apparent decision by the Attorney General’s Office to stay out of the George Washington Bridge investigation, much to the annoyance of veteran prosecutors in the office.

Full Story.



Has Supreme Court lost its zeal to curb consumer class actions?

Alison Frankel | Reuters

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to grant review to two small Nebraska banks facing class action allegations that they failed to post stickers on ATM machines to alert users about add-on fees. That might not seem like a surprise, except that the certiorari petition by the banks’ counsel at Mayer Brown raised a question that the Supreme Court has previously struggled with: whether class action plaintiffs asserting federal laws that provide statutory damages have constitutional standing to sue even if they haven’t suffered any actual injury. The justices heard a different case posing the exact same question in 2011 in First American Financial v. Edwards, but didn’t resolve the issue because they dismissed the appeal on the last day of the term in June 2012. Class action opponents like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Washington Legal Foundation and the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals were hoping that the Nebraska banks’ case was a new chance to end litigation by uninjured plaintiffs whose small, individual statutory damages claims turn into a big nuisance when they’re accumulated in class actions.

Full Story. 



Can Panel Compel Kelly, Stepien to Release Bridgegate Emails?

Mark J. Magyar | NJ Spotlight

The future of the Legislature’s Bridgegate investigation is in the hands of a Superior Court judge who will decide whether Bridget Kelly and Bill Stepien, the deputy chief of staff and campaign operative who are the only two staffers Gov. Chris Christie has fired, must turn over emails and other communications related to the infamous George Washington Bridge lane closures.

Full Story.



Family Feud Ends for NJ Teen Rachel Canning and her Parents

Ben Horowitz | The Star-Ledger

Rachel Canning, the 18-year-old who sued her parents for support after an escalating family squabble, returned home last night, an attorney for the couple said today.

Angelo Sarno, who represents the Cannings, would not say what sparked the reconciliation, but said the parents welcomed her back.

Full Story.



2013 Civil Justice Update: Recently Enacted State Reforms and Judicial Challenges

Andrew C. Cook | Federalist Society

The purpose of this paper is to provide a comprehensive national survey of both recent court decisions ruling on challenges to existing civil justice laws and the newly enacted civil justice reforms. This paper has two main parts: Part I describes state and federal court rulings in 2013 and Part II describes legislation passed during the year’s legislative session.

Full Story.



Chevron Case Shows Why We Must Police Lawsuit Fraud

Lisa A. Rickard | U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform

Terms like “racketeering,” “extortion,” “money laundering” and “wire fraud” are typically more associated with the Mafia than plaintiffs’ lawyers. But in a landmark ruling last week, a New York federal judge used these terms to describe conduct by a lawyer.

Full Story.


Friday, March 07, 2014

We've Moved

This week we moved into our new office building at 112 W. State Street in Trenton. Stop by and say hello the next time you are in the area!


Thursday, March 06, 2014

NJCJI Making Progress on Class Action Reform

Amending New Jersey’s law governing the appeal-ability of class certifications has long been a priority of the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute because the current practice of allowing appeals only by permission of the court emphasizes economics over justice, and invites plaintiffs to file weak claims. A rule change permitting interlocutory appeal of class certification decisions would enhance the predictability and fairness of the judicial process, and increase the likelihood that courts reach decisions based on the merits of the cases before them.


At NJCJI’s request, the New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Civil Practices has formed a subcommittee to consider changing court rules to allow for the interlocutory appeal of class action certifications as of right. The next report of the Committee will not be issued until early 2016, but the Committee is accepting comments on this year's report, which announced the Committee’s decision to further study the appeal issue. We encourage you to let the Committee know you are pleased with its decision.


Bills establishing a right to appeal class certifications have been introduced during the past few legislative sessions at NJCJI’s encouragement. This session, Assemblyman Wisneiwski has introduced A2756, which would establish an immediate right to interlocutory appeal of certification decisions. Introduction of a companion bill in the Senate is forthcoming. Keep your eyes on your inbox for further updates.


Click here for more information on interlocutory appeals of class certifications.


Haddonfield Lawyer Admits to Doctoring Asbestos Suits in N.Y. to Increase Business

Jessica Beym | South Jersey Times

A former attorney in the Haddonfield office of a firm specializing in toxic tort litigation today admitted that he falsified defendants’ names in more than 100 asbestos suits filed in New York State courts in order to increase business and his standing in the firm, according to U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman.

Full Story.

Court Considers Changes to Securities Class Actions

This week the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Halliburton Co. v. Erica P. John Fund. The issue in the case is the ongoing viability of fraud-on-the market theory as an underlying assumption in shareholder class actions.


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Man Sues McDonald's for $1.5 Million After Being Given Only One Napkin

Lee Moran | New York Daily News

McDonald's has been hit with a supersized lawsuit.

Unhappy eater Webster Lucas reportedly wants $1.5 million from the fast-food company after he claimed the staff only gave him one napkin.

Full Story.

New Jersey State Bar Association Task Force on Judicial Independence

The New Jersey State Bar Association has created a Task Force to examine the issue of judicial independence. The members of the Task Force are retired judges, law professors, practicing attorneys and members of the lay public. The goal of the Task Force is to produce a report that will contain recommendations with respect to preserving the independence of the judges of this State. The Task Force is wholly independent of the Bar Association, which will not control or influence its proceedings or conclusions.


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State Collects Over $300 Million in Settlements in 2013

Acting Attorney General Hoffman has released a summary of the civil judgments obtained by the state during 2013. The $304 million collected is a $104 million increase over 2012 judgments. Litigation-related payouts by the State in 2013 totaled approximately $77.7 million.


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Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Kids These Days

A New Jersey teen is making headlines across the country for the lawsuit she has filed against her parents seeking monetary support. However, this is just the tip of the juvenile lawsuits iceberg.


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