169 posts categorized "The Courts"

Thursday, April 03, 2014

State Bar Forum on Judicial Independence Long on Complaints, Short on Solutions

The New Jersey State Bar Association’s Task Force on Judicial Independence held the first of its four public hearings on April 1, 2014, at the New Jersey Law Center.  Though over 20 people testified at the three-hour hearing, few offered concrete suggestions for how the court system could be improved. The majority of the testimony focused on perceived problems with the system.

Continue reading "State Bar Forum on Judicial Independence Long on Complaints, Short on Solutions" »

NJCJI Letter to the Editor: Fights on the Schoolyard Shouldn't be Solved in the Courtroom

The Star-Ledger editorial, "Bullying: If schools are liable, parents can be, too" (March 31), appropriately raised warnings about using courts to hold parents of child bullies liable, but I disagree with the conclusion that some good can come from the threat of litigation.


Continue reading "NJCJI Letter to the Editor: Fights on the Schoolyard Shouldn't be Solved in the Courtroom" »

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.

Continue reading "NJCJI Files Brief in Malpractice Insurance Case " »

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.

Continue reading "Rabner Details Ways Business Community Can Get Involved With Courts at NJCJI Luncheon" »

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.


Thursday, March 06, 2014

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.


Continue reading "Court Considers Changes to Securities Class Actions" »

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.

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.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Top News Clips for the Week of Jan. 25-31

A selection of the need-to-know civil justice news for the week of January 25-31, 2014.


Opinion: Background Checks - ‘Ban the Box’ is Not the Answer

Jon Bramnick|The Record

As Americans, we believe in giving people a “second chance.” The proposed “Ban the Box” legislation is not the answer to the problem of a job applicant with a criminal history.


Imagine you are looking to hire someone to care for your elderly mother. That person will be alone with her and will have access to her home and her possessions.


After receiving applications for the job, you discover that one of the applicants has a criminal history of assault and theft. One would presumably be concerned about hiring that person to assist your mother.


You may not have a choice if “Ban the Box” legislation is enacted.

Full Story.


Continue reading "Top News Clips for the Week of Jan. 25-31" »

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Top News Clips for the Week of Jan. 18-24

A selection of the need-to-know civil justice news for the week of January 18-24, 2014.

How to Sue Over the Christie Bridge Scandal and Win

John Culhane | Slate

As New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tries to recover from the fallout for his administration’s participation in the vindictive decision to close lanes and snarl traffic on the George Washington Bridge for five days, he will get no help from lawsuits brought by angry citizens stuck in the mess. The first suit has already dropped. These claims will surely breed others. They could keep the story alive for years. And they could even result, unusually, in personal liability for the officials involved, including, perhaps, the governor himself.

Full Story.

Continue reading "Top News Clips for the Week of Jan. 18-24" »

Friday, January 17, 2014

2014 Legislative Agenda

New Jersey’s businesses face a stagnant economy coupled with high business costs, but our members know that New Jersey’s economy is taking another serious hit – from excessive litigation. During the 2014 legislative session the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute will advocate for legislation that ensures that New Jersey's civil justice system treats all parties fairly and discourages lawsuit abuse.

Continue reading "2014 Legislative Agenda" »

Legal Impacts of Bridgegate

You can’t turn on the news, open a paper, or scroll through your Twitter feed these days without being inundated with stories about the George Washington Bridge lane closing scandal. While most stories focus on the political fallout, there are real legal implications that deserve attention as well.


Here's Who's Behind The Huge Civil Lawsuit From The Chris Christie Bridge Scandal

Brett LoGiurato | Business Insider

Four-hour delays. Late for work. Lost wages. Late for crucial doctor's appointments.

Some of these alleged hardships are at the heart of a proposed class-action complaint in the burgeoning George Washington Bridge scandal. The complaint was filed last Thursday, the day after new revelations tying the administration of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to the lane closures.

Full Story.


Chris Christie hires law firm to review administration's role in 'Bridgegate'

By Statehouse Bureau | Asbury Park Press

A former federal prosecutor will head up an internal review by the administration of Gov. Chris Christie of his staff’s involvement with the politically motivated lane closings on the George Washington Bridge in September 2013.

The administration this morning announced the hiring of the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher law firm and specifically Randy Mastro to assist both with the review and an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office into the closings, which snarled traffic for four days in Fort Lee.

Full Story.


Bridge scandal: Chris Christie's Nominees Delayed

By Jenna Portnoy | The Star-Ledger

The ongoing scandal over George Washington Bridge lane closures is having more ripple effects through Gov. Chris Christie’s administration.

The Republican governor has put on hold his plan to nominate John Hoffman, his acting attorney general, to the state Superior Court. The move comes as the nomination of Christie’s chief of staff, Kevin O’Dowd, is also in a holding pattern.

Full Story.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fernandez-Vina nomination clears Senate Judiciary Committee

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to advance the nomination of Faustino Fernandez-Vina.  If confirmed by the full Senate, he would replace Justice Helen Hoens, whom Governor Christie declined to renominate.  

The Court currently has two vacancies, reflecting a three-year impasse between the Governor and Senate leadership.   


Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Honorable Roberto Rivera-Soto, live from NJLRA

Rivera-Soto at event crop
The Honorable Roberto Rivera-Soto
You may recall former N.J. Supreme Court Justice Roberto-Rivera Soto as the justice who declined to seek renomination to the State's highest court back in 2011, just as the current high court standoff began to unfold.

Rivera-Soto, who is now in private practice, was the keynote speaker at NJLRA's annual Fall Membership luncheon. He offered his insight about the current vacancies on the Court, critisms of the political structure which led to said vacancies, and praise for his former colleagues. 



Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Read NJLRA’s letter-to-the-editor in this week’s edition of the New Jersey Law Journal

NJ’s civil courts are experiencing a backlog of litigation, despite a decrease in the number of filings.  Read Marcus Rayner’s assessment of why this may be happening. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

NJCJI Executive Director Marcus Rayner testifies before the NJ Supreme Court


Marcus Rayner Headshot

NJCJI's President, Marcus Rayner, testified before the state’s highest court on Tuesday, May 21st.  Rayner asked the justices to consider amending the state’s Rules of Evidence to ensure that evidence permitted in New Jersey courtrooms are of comparable caliber to evidence permitted at trial in other jurisdictions.  New Jersey’s Rules of Evidence, which act as a framework to determine whether evidence is admissible in court, have been heavily criticized for being too favorable to plaintiffs and their attorneys.  As a result, plaintiffs from across the country seek to have their cases heard in New Jersey courts whenever possible, where the standard for what may be considered evidence is notoriously and disproportionately low.  The past several years have seen an epidemic of “litigation tourism” in New Jersey as thirty-four other states have adopted all or part of the federal Daubert standard.  Amending New Jersey’s Rules of Evidence would likely cut down on litigation tourism and the associated costs of hearing the cases of non-New Jersey residents and warrant fewer instances of appellate review. 


Rayner was joined by Edward Fanning, who testified on behalf of the New Jersey Defense Association, and John Zen Jackson, testifying on behalf of the Medical Society. 

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. 

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, August 23, 2012

Baseball Lawsuit

A young man who was severely brain injured during a Little League game will receive a $14.5 million settlement.  Approximately $4.7 million will go to his attorneys. 

A baseball hit from a metal bat struck him in the chest at age 12.  Now 18, Steve Domalewski has difficulty speaking and can’t stand on his own. He’s lucky to be alive.  It was a costly freak accident that will affect him and his family forever. 

Metal bats are controversial because of their potential to cause serious injury, as one did to Steve Domalewski.  According to the Star-Ledger, the suit targeted Hillerich & Bradsby, makers of Louisville Sluggers; Little League, Inc., which approved use of the bat; and The Sports Authority, which sold the bat. 

Some comments from NJ.com:


why stop here? Sue the town for allowing the game to happen. Sue the state for allowing the town to allow the game to happen. Sue the United States for allowing the state to allow the town to have the game. Sue the makers of the baseball for making the baseball too hard. Sue the opposing batter and his family for hitting the ball. Sue the opposing kid's coach for putting the kid out there that hit the ball that hurt this young man. Sue the maker of this kid's glove for not catching this comebacker in time. Sue the umps who didn't stop this game proactively before the child got injured. Sue PAL Baseball for having this league in which the child got injured.


1 Hour Ago



You forgot the shirt maker for not making it out of a material that would deflect a ball...LOL 


Wednesday, August 01, 2012

NJ Supreme Court Says ‘No’ – Why Pet Owners' ‘Emotional Distress’ Doesn’t Hold up in Court

In part, it’s, the human-versus-animal, possession-versus- humankind argument.

New Jersey resident Joyce McDougall witnessed her cute Maltese-poodle’s violent death at the hands (paws?) of another dog in Morris Plains.  She filed suit for the cost of a replacement dog, and for emotional distress. 

A trial court agreed that she should receive more than the cost to replace her pet and issued her $5,000.  But being compensated for emotional distress was reserved for people who witness the violent death of a close family member, they said, based on the 1980 Portee v. Jaffee doctrine.  The New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously upheld that decision this week. 

In a much-needed reality check, Justice Helen Hoens observed that the vast majority of states do not allow owners to sue for emotional distress when their animals are killed.  And beyond that, the Courts have been very limited in what they consider to be a “close family member” under this doctrine.   The New Jersey Law Journal notes that an appellate court in the 1980s said it did not apply to a woman who saw her 5-year-old neighbor, with whom she was very close, mauled to death by a circus animal (Eyrich ex rel. Eyrich v. Dam, 193 N.J. Super. 244).   

"It would make little sense, we think, to permit [the] plaintiff to recover for her emotional distress over the loss of her dog when she would be precluded from any such recovery if she instead had the misfortune of watching a neighbor's child, whom she regarded as her own, torn apart by a wild animal," Hoens said.

And if the Court were to expand Portee to include animals, it would open the floodgates for New Jerseyans to sue for emotional distress after watching heirlooms or other property destroyed, the Justices reasoned.  As if New Jersey needs any help maintaining its status as a Judicial Hellhole

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The difference is, charging excessive fees is fair when WE do it…

A class action lawsuit brought by major corporations and trade associations against Visa, Inc., and Mastercard, Inc., charged that the companies’ fees to retailers were excessive.  And after a $725 billion settlement, the plaintiffs are seeing that the defendants aren’t the only ones charging high fees. 

The settlement includes a $1.2 billion temporary fee-reduction.  With history as a guide, attorneys can make as much as $600 million, which is roughly 10 percent of the remaining settlement.  This puts it on par with fees received by lawyers during Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco litigation according to an expert quoted in a Reuters report. 

And yes, a new ‘swipe fee’ may be in order for consumers as a result of the settlement. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How will SCOTUS Obamacare decision affect NJ? Read NJCJI’s op-ed in the Star-Ledger to find out


Later this week, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as “Obamacare.” The law’s constitutionality has sparked discussions and debate over the past three years as we vet the best way to keep ourselves healthy. But irrespective of your position on the mandates and regulations that comprise it, New Jersey has a health care crisis all its own — one that has the potential to affect how its residents access specialized medical care in the very near future, and one that the court’s decision isn’t likely to affect.

New Jersey’s crisis is a shortage of doctors. And the hemorrhaging will affect us all.

Ask around and you’re likely to hear frustration about the amount of time it takes to schedule a visit with an OB-GYN. Unfortunately, that is becoming the norm. The New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals reports that there is already a 12 percent gap between physician supply and demand. New Jersey’s medical schools graduated 860 newly minted physicians in 2009; only 370 stayed in the state. By 2020, New Jersey is expected to be short an additional 3,000 physicians needed to care for its population.

And these shortages are most profound in obstetrics, cardiovascular specialties and family medicine. In short, women will bear the brunt.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Until further notice, the halls of justice will be closed

In the criminal court system, it’s often said that justice delayed is justice denied. 

But for the civil court system in Union County, justice is suspended. 

A political stalemate over judicial vacancies is contributing to a shortage of judges available to hear civil cases, according to a report in the Star-Ledger.  A nearly 40 percent vacancy rate among judges, a backlog of over 800 cases, and four recall justices on vacation beginning July 1st means that the Union County Courthouse will not hear any civil cases during the months of July and August, a spokesperson said.  Civil cases include everything from child custody disputes and divorces to the resource-draining “I-drove-drunk-and-hurt-myself-time-to-sue-the-bar” cases for which New Jersey has become infamous.  

New Jerseyans from all walks of life need access to our civil courts.  Union County taxpayers are no exception.  Once the political stalemates are resolved, the Legislature needs to get serious about keeping frivolous lawsuits of our civil courts, which take scarce time, money, and resources away from disputes which need judicial intervention.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder - not the ADA attorney - right?

To the dismay of taxpayers and Americans with actual disabilities everywhere, unfortunately, it appears that the answer is “wrong.”

A University of Texas professor mused in an op-ed in the New York Times last year that affirmative-action like programs for the “ugly” should be in order, giving self-described “ugly” Americans grounds for a lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

Lacking a high school diploma, the Department of Justice warned, may also count as a disability under the expanded definition of the ADA, should a potential employer reject an applicant because of it.

The Washington Times points out that the expanded definition of “disability” is consistent with a 2008 Congressional amendment to the Act, following concerns that courts were interpreting the definition too narrowly.  The tide seems to have been reversed and then some, with ADA claims rising by 90 percent in the past five years.  “The flood includes more frivolous claims than ever,” writes Luke Rosiak for the Washington Times.  “Despite the broadened law, the EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] saw the highest percentage yet deemed ‘no reasonable cause’ last year.” 

Alas, even with the expanded definition on the plaintiffs’ side, ADA attorneys are still finding ways to te$t the bounds of our taxpayer-funded court system. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bruce Harris nomination tomorrow, 10 a.m.

Some say it's a done deal: Bruce Harris, Mayor of Chatham and Governor Christie's Supreme Court nominee, won't be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow. 

The Star-Ledger reported this last week (Spoto, 5/22), and others have weighed in since.  Here is a sampling:

"Before a second of testimony has been heard or a single question has been asked, once again Democrats are disrespecting the nomination process and rushing to judgment to kill another qualified man’s nomination before he even sits in the committee room."- Kevin Roberts, spokesman for Governor Christie

"The nomination of Mr. Harris sends the wrong message, that we can only achieve diversity on the Supreme Court through lowering the bar for qualifications.  In a state with many distinguished African-American lawyers and judges, nothing could be further from the truth." – Senator Ronald Rice, leader of the NJ Black Legislative Caucus

"I don’t think it’s going to be an extremely long hearing because there’s just not a lot of experience to question him on," Senator Nick Scutari, Senate Judiciary Chair

(and of course)

"It's interesting that someone like Nick Scutari, with his educational background [found Harris unqualified]" - Governor Christie

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A win for common sense

As you may recall from a previous post, a Morris County judge was being asked to decide whether a woman who sent a text message to her boyfriend just before he caused a serious accident could be held liable. 

Judge David Rand rejected the plaintiff’s effort to hold the text sender liable.   “Were I to extend a duty of care [to the text sender] in this case, in my judgment any form of distraction could potentially serve as a basis of liability,” he said. 

The case was believed to be the first of its kind.  Morris County motorcyclists who were severely injured and each had a leg amputated sued Kyle Best, the driver of the car, as well as his girlfriend, from whom he was receiving a text message at the time he caused the accident.  The injured parties claimed that she knew or “should have known” the driver would be reading the text while driving, even though she wasn’t with him in the vehicle. 

According to a Daily Record report, the plaintiffs’ attorney is planning to appeal.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A driver reads a text and causes a serious accident. But it might be the sender’s fault.

A New Jersey court will soon decide whether a woman who sent a text message to an irresponsible teenager is liable for the accident he caused.

It was a horrible accident: the Morris County teenager, tinkering with unimportant texts while behind the wheel, struck a motorcycle ridden by a couple.  They were severely injured and each had a leg amputated.  They’ve described it as being in prison, and their lives will never be the same. 

To make matters even worse, the driver, Kyle Best, received a mere slap on the wrist – a nominal fine and some community service.  The law didn’t even require his license be revoked.  He’s free to drive and risk the penalties for texting while driving again if he so chooses. 

But the couple’s attorney has filed a lawsuit against not just the teenager – but the person he was conversing with via text at the time of the accident. 

“The victim's lawyer claims the woman aided and abetted the driver's negligence by texting him when she knew or should have known he was driving,” according to an Associated Press report.  “However, her lawyer is seeking to have her dismissed as a defendant, saying she had no control over when the driver would read the message. He also claims the legal arguments made by the victims' attorney are not supported by case law.”

The Daily Record reports that Morris County Superior Court Judge David Rand is expected to decide on May 25th whether to dismiss Shannon Colonna, the woman who sent the text message to Best, as a defendant in the suit. 

NJLRA mused over the implications if the court finds the text-sender liable: will people need to sign waivers before we can hand them a bottle opener?  It would open a legal can-of-worms bound only by a lawyer’s imagination and ability.  What’s next, “the phone made me do it”?

It’s a painful situation in which New Jerseyans have to wonder how our legal system became so unfair.  Dismissing the claim against Colonna wouldn’t right the wrongs committed against the couple.  But it would help bring common sense and personal responsibility back into the legal equation. 

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. 

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. 

Monday, March 05, 2012

Unnamed Trenton Bar is the latest New Jersey establishment to be sued for a patron’s intoxication

Whether you live or work in the Trenton area (or just read about it on occasion), you may remember the unfortunate death of a man who had fallen into a snow bank at the intersection of South Warren and West Front streets last winter. 

Quirino Azcona, a popular deliveryman whom friends called “Cabrera,” stopped at an unnamed bar after his shift ended at Supreme Food in the City’s South Ward in late January 2011.  Fresh snow lined the path he took to his residence in the West Ward.  Surveillance footage suggests that he was heavily intoxicated, stumbling several times before he fell into a snow bank and didn’t get up.  He laid there for an unspecified period of time, hidden from sight by the snow, before he was tragically caught in a city plow and gruesomely killed.

In addition to the City, Azcona’s estranged wife and children have decided to sue the bar. 

"The bar served him to the point where he was intoxicated," his lawyer said in a statement to the Times of Trenton.  "The poor guy got drunk, went out into the snow and got run over by a snowplow.”

Yes, the poor guy got drunk after drinking alcohol.  What reasonable adult could anticipate such a consequence?

The weather conditions certainly were a key contributor to Azcona’s accident, but I suppose the bar is a defendant when Mother Nature is unavailable.   We’ve seen similar situations before. 

We’ve all been warned about the consequences of drinking and driving (really, the consequences of drinking and doing just about anything), which is why most bar patrons take precautions when consuming alcohol.  But as the suing-the-bar-where-you-voluntarily-drank-alcohol-trend continues, the courts are allowing the intoxicated and their kin to shift responsibility to others rather than hold them responsible for their actions (see Voss vs. Tranquilino, Killarney’s in Hamilton, et. all). 

We probably won’t ever know if the unnamed bar in question is the only establishment Azcona patronized on the night of his death, or whether things may have turned out differently if he had been walking with a friend instead of alone.  But we can use his untimely death as an opportunity to remind the public to take weather conditions into account when enjoying a night out, even when planning to walk.  And, hopefully, keep others from meeting a similar fate.  This isn’t something that a lawsuit can do. 

The plaintiffs’ attorneys will argue that personal responsibility is too much of a buzz kill for patrons, so the bar needs to supervise the adults in their presence.  But judging by the comments associated with the Times of Trenton’s story, it seems that most of us agree that having a bar play nanny to its patrons is a greater buzz bill.   

Azcona certainly isn’t the first person to pass out in a drunken stupor after leaving a bar.  But if the suing-the-bar-where-you-voluntarily-drank-alcohol-trend continues in New Jersey, nightlife in the Garden State may undergo an involuntary rehab.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Read NJLRA’s letter-to-the-editor in the Times of Trenton


Advocating for traffic changes might be more helpful 

Carl Wilkins’ family suffered an unspeakable nightmare when their loved one was tragically struck and killed after a double hit-and-run incident. The family’s attorney has indicated that they intend to sue NJ Transit, the state of New Jersey and Ewing Township for his death, along with the women who committed this crime (“Hit-and-run victim’s family targets NJ Transit, Ewing, state, 2 others,” Feb. 8).

The individuals who killed Mr. Wilkins deserve to be found liable for their actions. Taking the law a step further, however, and suing the township, state and NJ Transit is costly and misdirected anger. There is no question that this was a tragedy. But as Ewing Township fights to keep its streets safe with fewer police officers, adding a hefty lawsuit to the agenda will undoubtedly jeopardize their ability to provide the services we have become accustomed to as taxpayers.

Suing Ewing Township won’t make crossing the street safer. But working with local and state government to address traffic patterns instead of working against them may yield the changes we need to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again.

-- Marcus Rayner, Feb 23rd  
The writer is executive director of the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance (njlra.org).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A dirty secret the Kiddie Kollege nightmare left behind

In 2006, children at a South Jersey daycare facility played freely.   Then state inspectors informed them that their facility existed on a heavily contaminated former thermometer factory.  A class action lawsuit against the building’s owners, as well as local, county, and state government entities found all parties liable. 

It may take several years until all of the damage done to these children comes to light, which is why the judge ordered each of these entities to pay for the children’s medical monitoring until age 24.  The fund was supposed to consist of $1.5 million for neuropsychological tests for the 100 children involved.  Early detection and treatment if health problems emerge, the order stressed. 

But so far, nearly 6 years parents were first told that their children were subjected to unsafe levels of mercury at Kiddie Kollege, not a single test has been administered through this fund


As is the case with far too many class-action lawsuits, the victims’ plight has taken a back seat to disputes over attorneys’ fees.  $1.5 million was put in escrow for medical testing last year.  But the $3 million requested by the five law firms representing the plaintiffs and $1.4 million already paid to Franklin Township’s attorney by its insurer are far from settled, delaying the children’s medical monitoring.  The township’s attorney has even asked for a new trial

The children who this case was supposed to be about haven’t accessed the testing that may affect the quality and duration of their lives.  But the lawyers who fought for it (and against it) probably don’t want you to know that. 

Thursday, January 05, 2012

A-265 Receives Broad Support in the Assembly Judiciary Committee

What do the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance, the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, NJBIA, New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, National Federation of Independent Business-New Jersey, Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey, Chemistry Council of New Jersey, New Jersey Food Council, and the Healthcare Institute of New Jersey have in common?

All were present to support A-265, sponsored by Assemblyman David Russo, which would create specialized business courts in New Jersey.  Chairman Peter Barnes noted the wide range of support. 

Legal issues involving businesses are complex, laden with terminology and evidence which is unfamiliar to the common court.  Highly technical matters are identified and addressed at great cost to both businesses and taxpayers alike.  The advantage of a business court is that it would permit business-related judicial matters to be heard by courts with an established background and knowledge of such litigation.  A majority of northeastern states already have a business court in place, and it is actively under consideration by several others. 

Establishing a business court doesn’t just improve the efficiency of our court system – it sends a strong message to businesses that New Jersey is a solid place in which to expand and hire workers. 

A-265 was posted today for discussion only.  NJLRA looks forward to the bill’s reintroduction and advancement in the 215th legislative session, which begins next week.  You can download a copy of NJLRA's testimony in support of business courts here.  

Legislation to create a business court in New Jersey on AJU agenda for discussion

A-265 would create a specialized business court within the New Jersey Superior Court.  

Legal issues involving businesses are increasingly complex, laden with terminology and evidence which is unfamiliar to the common court.  Highly technical matters are identified and addressed at great cost to both businesses and taxpayers alike. 

And unsurprisingly, we are among a minority of states on the east coast which do not have a business court in place.

NJLRA supports A-265 because it would permit narrow business-related judicial matters to be heard by courts with an established background and knowledge of business litigation.  And with an unemployment rate in excess of 9 percent – the highest in the region – the creation of a business court serves as an incentive for leading employers to increase their business presence in New Jersey.  The highly specialized industries, including the life sciences, which are affected by this legislation have the potential to create long-term, high paying jobs that will be essential to growing our state’s economy over the next several years.   

It is sponsored by Assemblyman David Russo (R-Midland Park). 

Friday, December 23, 2011

NJLRA Statement on $4.1 Million Settlement Awarded to Man Who Overdosed on Stolen Drug

Since you just can’t make some things up (“Man who overdosed at teen house party awarded $4.1 million settlement,” Markos, The Record), here is NJLRA’s statement:

Ridgewood drug store to pay nearly half; underscores need for legal reform

TRENTON, N.J. – Marcus Rayner, executive director of the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance, released the following statement regarding a $4.1 million settlement awarded to a 21-year-old who overdosed on Xanax stolen from a local pharmacy:

“In this case, the pharmacy was the victim – not the plaintiff, who made a decision to ingest stolen drugs.  Yet it is the pharmacy that is being denied justice by today’s legal system and the drug user who is benefiting from it. 

“The pressure to settle cases – even ones as ridiculous as this – is high, particularly for small businesses like Harding Pharmacy.  This isn’t CVS or Walgreens, with a legal department to handle such matters.  This is a neighborhood business, which settled a case of questionable merit presumably because the cost of justice is simply too high and out-of-reach. 

“In New Jersey a drunk driver can already sue a bar tender if he injures himself while driving under the influence.  Apparently pharmacies which have drugs stolen from them can be financially liable for thieves’ overdoses.  It is a classic example of abusing the system in the hopes of winning a jackpot judgment at everyone else’s expense. 

“This case underscores just how much our tort system has become out-of-step with common sense and fairness.  Instead of investing in Ridgewood’s local economy, $1.9 million will be going into the pocket of a man who made poor and illegal choices. 

Scott Simon voluntarily ingested Xanax stolen by a friend who used to work for the pharmacy nearly four years ago.   His cohorts did not seek immediate medical attention after he went into a coma.  Harding Pharmacy will pay $1.9 million.  Other parties will pay the remaining amount. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Faking a disability? Don’t post it on Facebook.

Unfortunately, it occurs all too often: a plaintiff overstates, inflates, or fabricates an injury altogether after an auto accident and seeks compensation. 

And then she posts photos of herself completing a 5k on Facebook

Defendants are beginning to fight back, asking courts for permission to introduce a plaintiff’s Facebook content if it appears to contradict statements made in court about the scope of their injuries. 

In a recent Pennsylvania case, Largent v. Reed, Jennifer Largent claimed that an automobile accident caused by the defendant, Jennifer Rosko, left her and her husband with “serious and permanent physical and mental injuries.”  Largent’s injuries were so extensive that she needed to walk with a cane, she told the Court.

All it took was a search of the plaintiff’s public profile to see Largent’s status updates about going to the gym and “enjoying life with her family.”  Judge Richard Walsh was satisfied that the defendants met relevancy standard needed to probe the rest of her page.  Noting Facebook’s motto – “Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life” – Walsh wrote:

[No court has ever] recognized a ‘general privacy privilege’ for Facebook information, and neither will we… only the uninitiated or foolish could believe that Facebook is an online lockbox of secrets.”

Ben Present, writing for the Legal Intelligencer, notes that this is the third Pennsylvania civil court to decide that a party’s Facebook page falls within the scope of discovery if posted information appears to contradict statements in discovery or testimony.  Let’s hope that plaintiffs and attorneys will begin to think twice before crowding our courts with bogus claims- that’s something honest Pennsylvanians can ‘like.’

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The iTunes Class Action Lawsuit You’ll Never Hear About

Unless you read about it here, of course. 

If you purchased a $0.99 iTunes giftcard, you could make a 30% return on your investment.

Apparently iTunes raised the price of most of their songs from $0.99 to $1.29 in April 2009. In legalese, this means that if you purchased a $0.99 giftcard before May 2010 (and no, I don’t understand the point of a $0.99 giftcard, either), you may be entitled to a large cash credit of $3.25.

Attorneys William M. Audet, Jonas P. Mann, Audet & Partners, LLP were kind enough to file this class action lawsuit on your behalf.  They are seeking a mere $2.1 million for their trouble.  The named plaintiffs in the suit, Johnson v. Apple Inc., will receive a $2,500 return on their $0.99 investment. 

While Apple maintains that it did nothing wrong, it seems that they’ve preferred to roll over and play dead rather than to risk an even greater financial loss: they are not contesting the $2,500 settlement for each named plaintiff, nor are they contesting the aforementioned attorneys’ fees.  The class’s own attorneys state:

Apple denies all allegations in the Lawsuit and in the Owens Action, and has asserted many defenses. Apple is entering into this settlement to avoid burdensome and costly litigation. The settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing or an indication that any law was violated.

And yes, if you were one of the folks who used a $0.99 iTunes giftcard during this period, they are representing you as well (unless you choose to opt out of the settlement – which you must do before December 29th). 

Finally, no greediness permitted: the fine print clearly states that you are entitled to one $3.25 credit, no matter how many giftcards you redeemed.  Click here to enlarge and see for yourself:

ITunes Class0001


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. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Reasons to "Rep Your ZIP"

Have you ever been asked “Can I have your ZIP code?” by a perky cashier?

It’s not something I have an issue with- after all, they’re just numbers that I happen to share with 25,000 other people. 

Kerry Feder, a Verona, NJ resident, doesn’t see it that way.  She was asked by a store employee for her ZIP code when making a purchase at Williams-Sonoma in Upper Montclair earlier this year.  Instead of simply declining, Feder decided to file suit under New Jersey’s Truth in Consumer Contract, Warranty, and Notice Act (TCCWNA).

Fortunately, Feder v. Williams-Sonoma Stores Inc. was thrown out by a federal judge in Newark earlier this week.  Judge William Walls found that Williams-Sonoma’s practice does not violate CCWNA because the “Can I have your ZIP code” request is not made under the provision of a written contract. 

Unfortunately, however, a Morris County judge reached the opposite conclusion just a few weeks ago in a case against Harmon Stores.  The New Jersey Law Journal reports that Superior Court Judge Stephan Hansbury rejected the notion that a ZIP code is “too broad an identifier to be the subject of a privacy violation.”  (The same attorneys, by the way, represented the plaintiffs in both TCCWNA suits). 

The reason why there is a sudden rush to try class action TCCWNA cases in New Jersey (even though this practice has been around for so long it’s rather routine) is likely due to a California Supreme Court ruling against Williams-Sonoma in February, which found that collecting ZIP codes violates their state’s consumer statutes.  A plethora of similar cases have since been filed across California, and it seems that New Jersey is poised to be the second state in which the trial attorneys want to test the waters. 

The courts’ conflicting rulings suggest that New Jersey might be in for more TCCWNA class action suits.  Trial attorneys may see the dollar signs at the end of the road, but remember who pays the bill: consumers, who pay stores’ legal overhead in the form of higher prices; job-seekers, whose opportunities part-time and seasonal employment may be extinguished; and taxpayers, who are forced to subsidize these cases as they make their way through the court system. 

So, you can stand up and be counted, and give your ZIP code if asked – (and if it means better advertising and coupons for me, I’m for it) – or you can decline.  The choice should be yours – not the trial bar’s to make for you. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Assemblyman Cryan: “Everybody wins if we curb frivolous lawsuits."

One thing is clear: NJ's hospitality industry could be severely impacted by Voss v.  Tranquilino.

Here are some highlights from Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Cryan’s (D-Union) keynote address at NJLRA’s annual Fall Membership Luncheon:

"As much as we try to help new businesses establish, hire people and flourish, we need to devote the same sort of efforts to making sure existing businesses and industries flourish. We all know that tort reform goes a long way to removing the obstacles that exist and actually prevent businesses and industries from growing.

"We've got to be able to give businesses and physicians and those who are impacted by what we [legislators] do some stability and some certainty in the marketplace. And hopefully together we can do that."

Cryan told the audience about his personal experience with lawsuit abuse in Middlesex County. His family-operated establishment was the third and largest of three establishments visited by an intoxicated patron. The patron, who was refused service by Cryan's establishment, fled as an employee attempted to call him cab and caused a fatal automobile accident. Cryan's establishment - the only establishment to refuse him service - ended up paying out half a million dollars in claims.

"I look at this recent Voss decision, for example, and the Supreme Court is going to potentially take down the whole hospitality industry... Have we kind of lost our way a little bit in terms of who's responsible for what?

The case refers to the New Jersey Supreme Court's decision in Voss v. Tranquilino earlier this year, which permitted an Ocean County motorcyclist to sue the establishment which served him for bodily injuries he sustained while driving under the influence.

"Tort reform isn't a Republican or Democrat issue - it's an economic issue," said Marcus Rayner, NJLRA’s executive director.

"That's why it's important to urge the legislature to support measures like A-3333/S-2855, which would help protect honest businesses from frivolous litigation," Rayner said.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Van Drew introduces Senate version of legislation to reverse Voss v. Tranquilino

Thumb Late last month, Senator Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May) introduced S-3028.  Like its companion bill, A-4228, this legislation would reverse the New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision in Voss  v. Tranquilino, which allowed a motorcyclist to sue the bar for injuries he sustained while driving drunk.  

The text isn’t available on the Legislature’s website as of today, but an earlier report in the Asbury Park Press outlines some of its parameters.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Must Read NYT Op-Ed: Ugly? You May Have a Case

“… why not offer legal protections to the ugly, as we do with racial, ethnic and religious minorities, women and handicapped individuals?”

Extending the Americans with Disabilities Act to protect the “ugly?”  Seriously?!

Most of us are taught that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, not the ADA attorney.

Nevertheless, Professor Daniel S. Hamermesh at the University of Texas, Austin, argues that even affirmative-action programs for the ugly should be in order.  Yes, he’s actually advocating to put ugliness-based lawsuits on the same platform of racial, ethnic, gender, and disability-based employment discrimination.

Oddly enough, he seems to acknowledge that money is the motivating – not supporting – factor in bringing potential lawsuits:

“There are other possible objections. ‘Ugliness’ is not a personal trait that many people choose to embrace; those whom we classify as protected might not be willing to admit that they are ugly.  But with the chance of obtaining extra pay and promotions amounting to $230,000 in lost lifetime earnings, there’s a large enough incentive to do so. Bringing anti-discrimination lawsuits is also costly, and few potential plaintiffs could afford to do so.  But many attorneys would be willing to organize classes of plaintiffs to overcome these costs, just as they do now in racial-discrimination and other lawsuits.”

Gee, there’s an idea. Let’s refrain from bathing and personal care and sue our way into cold hard cash.  Exactly what our business community (and kempt colleagues) need to thrive during an economic downturn. 

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

In case you were wondering…

The results* of our very unscientific Facebook poll are clear:


FB Poll

 *as of 8/9/2011, 1:04 p.m. EST

Yet, we still need legislation to deliver this message to the New Jersey Supreme Court

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

He’s back! Richard Kreimer, the NJ man who made $400k suing people

Richard Kreimer has discovered something the trial bar has known for quite some time: there is good money in suing people.

Excerpt from Alexi Friedman’s piece in the Star-Ledger:

“Kreimer, who is homeless, has made a name for himself over the years by suing NJ Transit, the Morristown Library, CVS pharmacy, a coffeehouse, a Chinese restaurant and various municipalities and mayors, all alleging First Amendment and civil rights violations. In most instances, he has been barred from or thrown out of a location.

Kreimer believes he is a target because he is homeless.

The suits — there have been close to 20 — have won the Morristown native equal parts scorn and support, a good bit of media coverage and hundreds of thousands of dollars in settlements.

"I’m probably the most famous person in New Jersey," he boasted in between forkfuls of rice and sips from a soda from the train station, where he spends much of his time.”