24 posts categorized "News Releases"

Monday, February 27, 2012

NJLRA Statement on NJ Supreme Court Decision in Kendall v. Roche

                                   

NJLRA Statement on NJ Supreme Court Decision in Kendall v. Roche

5-1 decision will allow case to proceed, despite concerns regarding statute of limitations, FDA’s approval

 TRENTON, N.J. – Marcus Rayner, executive director of the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance, issued the following statement regarding the state Supreme Court’s decision in Kendall v. Roche:

 

“The New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision in Kendall v. Roche negatively impacts thousands of businesses across the state at time when we are trying to create jobs and recover from a severe economic downturn.  The court’s disregard for New Jersey’s statute of limitations adds uncertainty in challenging times. 

“By finding that the Federal Food and Drug Administration’s approval is inadequate, Roche and other product manufacturers can now be found liable for damages even if all steps to obtain the proper labeling were taken and approved.  This adds great uncertainty to the business community and essentially adds enormous overhead costs to the development of critical and life-saving drugs. 

 

Contact:

AnnMarie McDonald

906.649.3167

amcdonald@njlra.org


# # #

The New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance (NJLRA) is a statewide, bipartisan group of businesses, individuals and organizations committed to improving the State’s civil justice system by advocating for legal reforms in the legislature and in the courts. NJLRA believes a balanced civil justice system is critical to ensuring fair and open courts, maintaining and attracting jobs and fostering economic growth in New Jersey. NJLRA is the only organization in New Jersey dedicated exclusively to civil justice reform.

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. 

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Survey: South Jersey Becoming a Lawsuit Mecca

A majority of New Jersey’s small business owners want the Legislature to address legal reform, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton survey

And business owners in the Philly suburbs are the most likely to be taken to court. 

The survey found that the majority of New Jersey’s small business owners aren’t happy with the state’s culture of litigation:

  • 84% of those surveyed rate the state’s business climate as “fair” or “poor,” and an astounding 87% say they want the Legislature to prioritize legal reform. 
  • 24% of businesses statewide have been threatened with litigation in the past five years, but that number jumps to 40% among South Jersey businesses. 
  • Overall, 1-in-4 South Jersey small businesses have actually been brought to court during the past five years.  The chances of courtroom litigation also increase with a business’s longevity and growth.
  • Two-thirds of South Jersey businesses saw an increase in their liability insurance premiums during this time period, even if they haven’t been sued.

Marcus Rayner, NJLRA's executive director, released the following statement:

“It’s clear that New Jersey’s liability laws put the state at a disadvantage,” said Marcus Rayner, executive director of the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance.  But that disadvantage is exacerbated if a business happens to operate in the suburbs of Philadelphia.”

“Every time a lawsuit is filed against one of New Jersey’s small businesses, every business’s insurance costs threaten to rise.  Business owners are telling us that even if it’s not their business being sued today, they still might incur costs and will need to make judgments about where to invest their business’s resources."

“This is not the kind of restraint we ought to have in a state with a 9.2% unemployment rate.  When 87% of small business owners in a state want change, it’s time for the Legislature to act.” 

The survey was conducted by the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.    Full results can be found our website, http://njlra.org.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

U.S. Chamber: Tort Reform Would Create 35,000 – 94,000 Jobs in New Jersey

Want to see New Jersey's unemployment rate drop by up to 2.3%?

Tort reform would bring a welcome infusion of cash and jobs into New Jersey’s struggling economy, according to a report issued by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform. 

New Jersey could save as much as $1.7 billion if comprehensive tort reform is enacted, according to the study, which measured New Jersey’s tort activity index.  A decrease in the state’s index would also yield between 35,000 and 94,000 new jobs, nudging the state’s unemployment rate down from 9.2% to 8.35% - 6.9%.    Litigation costs would drop by as much as 21.5%. 

“The correlation between tort reform and economic growth is evident,” said Marcus Rayner, executive director of the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance.  “This study demonstrates that the economic growth New Jersey so desperately needs can be spurred with common-sense tort reform.  

“$1.7 billion reinvested in our economy will help put people back to work and help New Jersey reclaim its economic footing.  Civil justice reform is a way to capture the money we waste on lawyer’s fees and litigation costs – without raising taxes or cutting essential services.” 

A state’s tort index is comprised of the number of tort claims filed annually, the frequency of major verdict awards, and the concentration of attorneys practicing in the state. 

A link to the study can be found on our website and via the U.S. Chamber.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Legislation to Overturn Voss v. Tranquilino Decision Introduced

NJLRA issued the following statement regarding A-4228, which would prohibit drunken drivers from suing restaurateurs for injuries they sustain while driving under the influence of alcohol:

"The New Jersey Supreme Court's decision in Voss v. Tranquilino allows a convicted drunk driver to use our court system to profit from the poor choices he made, at the expense of New Jersey's business community.  Common sense is being downgraded to the point where drunk drivers can relinquish personal responsibility by collecting monetary damages from the restaurateur serving them drinks. 

"This decision was a kick in the gut to New Jersey's restaurateurs.  A-4228 is a first step toward protecting our business community from the Supreme Court's misinterpretation of the law. 

"The Court clearly defied the will of the legislature when issuing this decision, and I encourage leadership in both houses to consider A-4228 as soon as possible. 

The case stems from a 2006 incident in which Fredrick Voss crashed his motorcycle into a car and injured himself.  His blood alcohol level was nearly two-and-a-half times the legal limit.  He pled guilty to a DWI charge but later filed suit against Tiffany's Restaurant in Toms River under the Dram Shop Act.     The New Jersey Supreme Court sided with Voss in a 5-2 decision, stating that existing law does not explicitly bar drunken drivers for suing for their own injuries. 

The legislation is sponsored by Assemblyman John Amodeo (R- Atlantic County). 

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Patterson nomination approved by Senate Judiciary Committee

 Nominee received bipartisan support from Senate Panel

Citing her temperament and diversity of experience, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination of Anne Patterson to the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Patterson declined to speak in-depth about ongoing matters before the Court, but said she fully appreciated the distinct roles of an activist and a judge. 

"Clearly you have the requisite skills to serve in this position," said Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), who chairs the committee.

Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), who previously cited concerns about the Court's lack of racial diversity, voted against Patterson’s nomination.

Patterson, 52, was originally nominated in May 2010 by Governor Chris Christie to fill the vacancy left by Justice John Wallace, whom he did not renominate for tenure. She was ultimately nominated to fill the anticipated vacancy left by Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto, who announced that he will not seek tenure.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

NJ Supreme Court finds that intoxicated patrons can sue businesses for injuries they sustain

Last year, Fredrick Voss made headlines for suing a Toms River restaurant for injuries he sustained after crashing his motorcycle while intoxicated.

Today, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of… Voss!  Only Justices Albin and Rivera-Soto dissented. 

Marcus Rayner, executive director of the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance (NJLRA), issued the following statement in response to the New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision, in Voss v. Tranquilino, which upheld an appellate court decision to permit persons convicted of a DUI offense to sue restaurants for injuries they cause to themselves:

"The Court today has once again defied the will of the legislature to the detriment of business and common sense in New Jersey.  The legislature sought, in plain language, to bar suits against bars and restaurants by intoxicated patrons under the motor vehicle laws of this state. Today drunk drivers can minimize personal responsibility for their actions and sue the restaurateurs of New Jersey for serving them drinks.

“Common sense tells us that pleading guilty to driving while intoxicated shouldn’t legally transfer responsibility from one party to another.  Adults who choose to break the law and endanger others should not have the ability to use our civil court system to collect monetary damages at the expense of New Jersey’s business community. 

The case stems from a 2006 incident in which Fredrick Voss crashed his motorcycle into a car and injured himself.  His blood alcohol level was nearly two-and-a-half times the legal limit.  He pled guilty to a DWI charge but later filed suit against Tiffany’s Restaurant in Toms River under the Dram Shop Act.   

The Court effectively upheld an appellate court's ruling, which found that an intoxicated motorist can sue a bar or restaurant for their own injuries resulting from being overserved alcohol at that bar or restaurant, even if they plead guilty to a DWI charge.  The Court upheld the notion that the Dram Shop Act (which established this liability for restaurants, though it was typically exercised by those innocently injured) supersedes motor vehicle law in NJ, which holds that drunk drivers may not sue the bar or restaurant.

A copy of the Court’s decision can be found on NJLRA’s website.

Monday, May 02, 2011

NJLRA Statement on Anne Patterson Nomination

NJLRA issued the following statement after the announcement that Governor Christie and Senate President Sweeney agreed to hold a hearing on the nomination of Anne Patterson to the seat being vacated by Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto on the State Supreme Court:

"We applaud Governor Christie and Senate President Sweeney for coming together to advance Anne Patterson's nomination and we look forward to a thoughtful hearing on her well-qualified candidacy.

“A strong and fully-constituted Supreme Court is vital to New Jersey's business community, as important issues decided by the Court directly impact New Jersey’s economic competitiveness.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

NJLRA joins Innovation New Jersey

Continuing our quest to promote economic growth in New Jersey, NJLRA has joined Innovation New Jersey, a coalition of the state’s leading business and higher education organizations.

Innovation New Jersey seeks to foster the life sciences and biotechnology industries in New Jersey by uniting the state’s business and higher education communities.  NJLRA is optimistic that enacting meaningful lawsuit reform measures will encourage an innovation-based economy by making it safe for responsible pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to operate here in New Jersey. 

“Statistics show that New Jersey’s pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are a leading source of jobs and economic stability in New Jersey,” said Marcus Rayner, executive director of NJLRA.  “By protecting these companies from frivolous litigation, we are allowing them to invest more of their resources into doing what they do best: creating jobs and saving lives.”

Innovation New Jersey has received the support of Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno.  Together, the coalition hopes to achieve the following:

  • Encourage increased private and public sector research and development;
  • Promote the commercialization of new medicines, technologies and products to improve the quality of life globally;
  • Stimulate economic growth in New Jersey;
  • Retain and advance high-paying innovation-related jobs in the State;
  • Increase the number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) related graduates from New Jersey colleges and universities.

A complete list of Innovation New Jersey’s members can be found on INJ’s new website, http://innovationnj.net/

Thursday, February 10, 2011

NJLRA Statement on the Congressional Civil Justice Caucus

A new bipartisan issue caucus in Congress was announced today- the Congressional Civil Justice Caucus, which will focus on legal reform issues.   NJLRA is excited, to say the least. 

I applaud Congressmen Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Dan Boren (D-OK) for taking the lead on this issue at the Congressional level.  It’s helpful to have a bipartisan caucus focus on advancing a civil justice system conducive to the United States’ global economic competitiveness. 

Here in New Jersey -  a state where consumers have neither an obligation to ask for a refund before taking a business to court, nor to have encountered actual fraud in order to sue under the state Consumer Fraud Act - the Caucus carries a special significance for us.  It shows the hardworking men and women of our state that members of Congress are willing to carry our fight against lawsuit abuse to the highest levels of government.  Knowing that we have support as we try to stop the hemorrhaging of our key industries is invaluable. 

Most importantly, the Congressional Civil Justice Caucus gives us the opportunity to expose the target that the pharmaceutical industry has on its back in our state.  In the last year New Jersey shed 7.6 percent of its pharmaceutical jobs, due in part to litigation tourism by the trial bar.  Instead of the nation’s “Medicine Chest,” we are becoming a national leader in pharmaceutical job exportation. 

Ninety-three percent (93%) of the mass tort plaintiffs in New Jersey suing our pharmaceutical companies are out-of-state residents seeking the use of our plaintiff-friendly laws.  This is an unacceptable situation we must correct in order to achieve solid economic growth.  I am hopeful that the Caucus will push for reforms similar to A-3333, sponsored by Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Essex) in states where the Consumer Fraud Act encourages abuse. 

New Jersey is quickly losing ground to other states which have enacted common sense tort reform measures.  I encourage all members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation to support the Civil Justice Caucus and participate in this bipartisan forum. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Barnes to chair Assembly Judiciary Committee

Assemblyman Peter Barnes III will replace Senator-elect Linda Greenstein as chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee.  Assemblyman Barnes served as vice-chair of the committee during the 2008 – 2009 Legislative Session. 

Senator-elect Greenstein, who chaired the committee for nearly a decade, won a special election to fill the remaining term of Senator Bill Baroni, who left for a position with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey earlier this year.  Barnes and Greenstein, both Democrats representing parts of Middlesex County, will assume their new roles next month. 

Thursday, October 07, 2010

New Jersey’s small business owners have spoken: 7 in 10 have had enough

New Jersey’s small business owners say that the state's business climate is bleak. 

What do they want? Tort reform.  Now. 

NJLRA conducted a survey of New Jersey’s small business owners in conjunction with the Monmouth University Polling Institute.  A wide-range of industries were surveyed: construction and manufacturing (29%), food, travel and entertainment (23%), retail trade (22%), and other services industries (26%). 

Some of the businesses have been in existence for over twenty years; others have been in business for five years or less.  But whether they employ less than four employees (34% of them do) or have 25 or more (9%), their voices sounded a unified message: enough with the lawsuits. 

70% of New Jersey’s small businesses agree that the state’s liability laws make it less attractive than other states to do business in. 

One-in-five small businesses say that a lawsuit was filed against them by a client or customer in the last 5 years, and another 9% say they were threatened with one.  One-in-three small businesses wouldn’t be surprised if they are sued in the next five years. 

Why are small businesses being sued?  Our respondents say the following are major drivers:

  • 79% say that advertising from personal injury lawyers contribute;
  • 72% say that a large cash settlement is a key motivator;
  • 68% say that misunderstandings are taken to court too quickly (see Bosland vs. Warnock Dodge).

And according to the survey, the greater a company’s revenue, the greater the chance it has been sued.

The majority (55%) of small business owners say that reforming our liability laws would improve New Jersey’s business climate.  Considering that 20% of them have seriously considered leaving the state – and taking their jobs, taxes, and client base with them – it’s time our elected officials listen. 

Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-Monmouth) joined NJLRA executive director Marcus Rayner at a press conference encouraging her colleagues to do exactly that.  “New Jersey consumers are the ultimate victims of this overly litigious culture,” she said. “When any businessperson can be dragged into court on any day, for virtually any reason, it chokes off innovation, expansion and competition."

“In a weak economy, New Jersey should be doing all it can to improve our State’s business climate and create jobs,” said Marcus Rayner.  “Our small businesses are crying out, and the message they’re sending us clear: New Jersey needs to get serious about tort reform.

The full survey results and NJLRA’s press release are available on our website

Saturday, September 18, 2010

In case you missed it...

Read John O’Brien’s piece on Senator Ray Lesniak’s remarks on tort reform at NJLRA’s Fall Membership Luncheon (“N.J. sen says tort reform will be ‘cornerstone’ of economic boost,” Legal Newsline, 9/16/10).

“A Democratic New Jersey lawmaker on Thursday said tort reform will be key in getting the state’s economy to rebound.  State Sen. Ray Lesniak, the chair of the Economic Growth Committee, made the remark at the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance’s Fall Membership Luncheon…. [Read More].”

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Judge cuts down inflated settlement in Volkswagen case

New Jersey’s weak Consumer Fraud Act almost helped make attorneys $9.4 million richer.  Thanks to U.S. Magistrate Judge Patty Shwartz’s diligence and attention to detail, however, consumers were spared having to absorb this expense.

Here are the facts.   As reported in the New Jersey Law Journal, some Volkswagen owners complained that their 1997 – 2005 Passat, Jetta, New Beetle, Golf, and Touareg models leaked in heavy rain.  In some cases it damaged the car’s interior, or its contents, varying in severity.  A nationwide class action lawsuit was filed in Newark, under New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act.  They were also accused of breaching express and implied warranty and the “duty of good faith and fair dealing.” 

In Del Guercio v. Volkswagen of America Inc., two firms represented the 5.5 million class members, representing 3 million vehicles.  The lawyers estimated a settlement of $142 million earlier this summer, and sought $22.5 million (15.8 percent) for themselves in fees.  Eventually, both sides agreed to $90 million instead. 

And then the judge scratched beneath the surface.  The plaintiffs’ expert estimate called for $28 million in “preventative maintenance,” including the cost of future labor, parts, towing, and loaner cars.  But the judge reduced this amount by more than half – to $13.1 million, because towing and loaner cars are already covered by the dealer, making the inclusion of these fees in the settlement redundant and without benefit to the consumer.  Further, the Court would be double counting if it agreed to damages for both avoiding future repairs and the declining car value if it has water damage. 

“While the two components address different consequences of the avoided water damage,” said Judge Shwartz, “one of the two will never come about because the maintenance avoids it.” 

Shwartz also recognized that it was improbable that 100 percent of eligible class members would claim their award, and further reduced the settlement.  $69 million, with thirteen percent of it reaching the trial lawyers instead of fifteen percent, was what the Judge ultimately decided was appropriate.  In what could be a warning to other litigators, she noted that the two years spent on recovery and three year period from the time the complaints were filed was untimely, and that the settlement didn’t “represent a particularly speedy resolution.” 

The New Jersey Law Journal reports that the Court received over 200 objections to the settlement.  Many class members felt that that the settlement did not adequately compensate them, and that the attorney fees were still too high. 

In the end, Volkswagen owners will probably have to pay some of their repair costs out-of-pocket with cash.  But, thanks to the Judge, the trial bar will have less cash to line their pockets with, too. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

In a 6 – 1 Decision, N.J. Supreme Court Guts Affidavit of Merit Statute

Plaintiffs’ attorneys are able to use experts from “outside the field” to testify against doctors in malpractice suits. 

 

TRENTON, N.J.The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled yesterday that plaintiffs don’t need to explain why they can’t find an appropriately qualified expert to testify in malpractice cases before seeking a good-faith waiver under the Affidavit of Merit Statute, only that they gave it a “college try.” 

 

In the case of Ryan v. Renny, the plaintiff’s attorney filed suit against a board-certified gastroenterologist, saying that the doctor deviated from accepted standards of care when he perforated a bowel during a colonoscopy.  The justices ruled in a 6 – 1 decision that even though the plaintiff’s attorney tried and failed to secure affidavits of merit from at least three different doctors certified in the same field, they would accept an affidavit of merit from a surgeon who was not board certified and had himself not performed the procedure  in many years.

 

"For many years the Affidavit of Merit Statute served its purpose - weeding out meritless lawsuits.  The Court's decision guts the Affidavit of Merit and opens the door to litigation abuse against New Jersey’s doctors,” said Marcus Rayner, executive director of the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance. 

 

“Loosening the Affidavit of Merit Statute to the point of irrelevance is one more disincentive for doctors to practice in New Jersey, said Rayner, citing a study by the Council of Teaching Hospitals, which projects that New Jersey will be short an estimated 3,000 doctors by the end of the decade.

 

Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto dissented, saying that the defendant has a legislative right “to be free of malpractice claims of questionable merit.” 

 

A copy of the Court’s decision can be found on the web at

http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/supreme/A-50-09.pdf

 

# # #

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Study: Insurance doesn’t protect small businesses from lawsuit abuse

Tort liability costs a lot, and it can be particularly expensive to small businesses. 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently released the results of a startling study:  small businesses bore 81 percent of business tort liability costs in 2008, despite only taking in 22 percent of the revenue.  As a nation, small businesses (defined as having less than $10 million in annual revenue) spent $105.4 billion in tort liability costs in 2008.  And more than 1/3 of that was post-insurance, out-of-pocket expenses. 

When including small medical practices, the total amount of small businesses’ expenditures on tort liability is pushed to $133.4 billion for 2008. 

NERA Economic Consulting, which conducted the study, expects that tort liability costs will continue to increase.  They expect tort costs for small businesses, both medical and non-medical, to reach $152 billion annually by 2011.  I’m sure you can guess likely reasons: frivolous litigation and the possibility of excessive awards increase the pressure to settle; weak evidentiary rules; an overzealous trial bar.

Spending money on tort liability is not parallel to making products or consumers safer.  It’s unfortunate that the $105.4 billion in tort liability costs – particularly the $35.6 billion of which is spent out-of-pocket by businesses – is spent on legal fees instead of being reinvested toward product development and innovation.  That would be quite a sorely-needed private-sector stimulus into our economy.

Click here to read the entire report, entitled “Tort Liability Costs for Small Businesses.”

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Around the web, 7.13.10

Small Businesses Pay 33% of Rising Tort Costs Out-of-Pocket

Insurance Journal

July 9, 2010

A new study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce shows that small businesses shoulder a sizable burden of the nation's tort liability costs, having paid $105.4 billion in 2008— a third of it out of their own pockets.

According to the report, small businesses bore 81 percent of business tort liability costs but took in only 22 percent of revenue.

The study, Tort Liability Costs for Small Businesses, also found that small businesses ($10 million or less in annual revenue) paid, collectively, $35.6 billion of these costs out-of-pocket rather than through insurance.

The study was conducted for the Chamber's Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) by NERA Economic Consulting.

Parasitic Tort Lawyers

By John Stossel  | The Creator.com

July 7, 2010

Tort lawyers lie. They say their product liability suits are good for us. But their lawsuits rarely make our lives better. They make lawyers and a few of their clients better off — but for the majority of us, they make life much worse.

Automated Debt-Collection Lawsuits Engulf Courts

By Andrew Martin | The New York Times

 July 12, 2010

As millions of Americans have fallen behind on paying their bills, debt collection law firms have been clogging courtrooms with lawsuits seeking repayment.

Few have been as prolific as Cohen & Slamowitz, a Woodbury, N.Y., firm that has specialized in debt collection for nearly two decades. The firm has been filing roughly 80,000 lawsuits a year.

With just 14 lawyers on staff, that works out to more than 5,700 cases per lawyer.

How is that possible?

The answer to that question is at the heart of a growing debate over the increasing use of the nation’s legal system to collect on bad debts.

Like many other firms, Cohen & Slamowitz relies on computer software to help prepare its cases. While many of the cases represent legitimate claims, critics say the lawsuits are too often based on inaccurate or incomplete information about the debtor or the amount owed.

Already, some state legislators and judges have tried to crack down on collection lawsuits, and on Monday, the Federal Trade Commission weighed in, saying the system for resolving disputes over consumer debts was broken and in need of “significant reforms.”

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Around the web...

Chamber's latest ranking of state legal systems.  New Jersey ranks what Walter Olson of Point of Law calls a “distinctively unimpressive” 32. 

Parsippany settles suit against emergency responders for $1.3 million

And last but not least:

Wife Wins $9 Million From Husband's Alleged Mistress

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey ranks New Jersey's legal climate

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform released the results of its 2010 Lawsuit Climate Survey.  It ranked New Jersey's legal climate as the 32nd worst in the United States. 

New Jersey’s road to economic recovery is going to be long and full of twists and turns.  Common-sense legal reform is one way to attract new employers and jobs to our state without spending a single taxpayer dollar.  Today, we continue to rank among states with the worst legal climate as suffering businesses across our state know all too well.  It’s time for state government to encourage economic development and job creation. 

NJLRA looks forward to working with Governor Christie, the Legislature and local officials on legal reforms that move New Jersey forward.”

The study can be found on the Institute for Legal Reform’s website at

http://www.instituteforlegalreform.com/

Friday, March 12, 2010

Around the Web

Tort reformer: N.J. SC's jurisdiction decision a dangerous one

John O’Brien · Legal Newsline

March 10, 2010

TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - Even if foreign companies don't want to do business in New Jersey, they can still find themselves in state courtrooms as a result of a recent state Supreme Court decision, a legal reform advocate told Legal Newsline. Read it.

Another high-tech company moves out of NJ…

Governor Rendell: High-tech Manufacturer Moving to PA, Creating 53 Jobs

PR Newswire

March 9, 2010

HARRISBURG – With a boost from $2.76 million in state investments, a New Jersey-based high-tech manufacturer plans to open a state-of-the-art facility in Northampton County and create 53 jobs, Governor Edward G. Rendell announced today.  Read it.

W.Va. Senate OKs business court plan

John O’Brien · Legal Newsline

March 10, 2010

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The West Virginia Senate on Wednesday gave its approval to a bill that would allow the state Supreme Court to create business courts in certain districts.  Read it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Report: Trial Lawyers are an “Economic Burden”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                             Contact: AnnMarie McDonald

February 12, 2010                                                                   (609) 649-3167

                                                                                                amcdonald@njlra.org

 

 

Report: Trial Lawyers are an “Economic Burden”

 

Trial Lawyers have made more campaign contributions than any other interest group during the last decade; Rayner calls it an obstacle for states’ economic recovery

 

TRENTON, N.J. – The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research has just released a scathing report chronicling the lobbying practices of the trial lawyers, formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. 

The trial lawyers donated $725 million dollars to candidates for state offices during the last 10 years.  According to the study, such influence has allowed trial lawyers to block civil justice reforms which would strengthen many states’ economies.  The annual direct cost of American tort litigation—excluding much securities litigation, punitive damages, and the multibillion-dollar settlement reached between the tobacco companies and the states in 1998—exceeds $250 billion, almost 2 percent of gross domestic product, it finds. 

Says Marcus Rayner, executive director of the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance, “The trial bar’s donations to state campaigns are strategic, because the state level is where grassroots tort reform movements begin.  The trial bar is effectively trumping the ability for lawmakers and citizens to decide what is best for their states, especially as their financial influence seeps into the judicial branch. 

“As states begin considering tort reform as a common-sense, cost-neutral initiative to promote job growth, the trial bar is presenting an additional obstacle to economic recovery at exactly the wrong time.

Among such efforts is a federal tax break for contingent-fee lawyers that is worth more than $1 billion.  It allows state juries to override federal regulations and discourages arbitration in disputes that are too expensive for trial. 

The entire text of the study can be found on the Manhattan Institute’s website, at http://www.triallawyersinc.com/kstreet/kstr01.html . 

 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

NJLRA Statement on the Inauguration of Governor Christie

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                              Contact:  AnnMarie McDonald

January 21, 2010                                                                    (609) 392-6557

                                                                                                    amcdonald@njlra.org

 

 

NJLRA STATEMENT ON THE INAUGURATION OF GOVERNOR CHRISTIE

 

Rayner expresses optimism, believes comprehensive bipartisan civil justice reform is possible

 

TRENTON, N.J. – Marcus Rayner, executive director of the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance, issued the following statement after attending the swearing-in of Christopher J. Christie as New Jersey’s Governor:

 

“I would like to congratulate Chris Christie as he assumes his new role as New Jersey’s governor.  As a state, we are in dire need of innovative solutions to improve our business climate and spur economic growth.  The Governor’s inclusion of Senate President Steven Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Shelia Oliver is critical to advancing cost-neutral tort reform remedies to address this situation. 

 

New Jersey cannot recover from this recession without sound policies that support job growth.  With limited resources to fund tax breaks or business incentives, legal reform offers policymakers in Trenton a fiscal-friendly policy change that can send a very strong message to employers all across the nation:  New Jersey is once again open for business. 

 

As we look toward the 214th Legislature with a fresh administration and legislative leadership, we are optimistic that real civil justice reform is possible.  As a candidate, Governor Christie included tort reform in his economic development plan.  He expressed interest in reforming the law to limit the ability of many out-of-state plaintiffs to sue in New Jersey's courts, discourage frivolous class-action litigation, and enhance the integrity of scientific evidence admitted in our courts. We look forward to working with the Governor’s office, Senate President Sweeney, and Speaker Oliver to achieve these reforms and build a stronger New Jersey. 

 

 

 

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The New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance (NJLRA) is a statewide, bipartisan group of businesses, individuals and organizations committed to improving the State’s civil justice system by advocating for legal reforms in the legislature and in the courts. NJLRA believes a balanced civil justice system is critical to ensuring fair and open courts, maintaining and attracting jobs and fostering economic growth in New Jersey. NJLRA is the only organization in New Jersey dedicated exclusively to civil justice reform.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

At least our gas tax is low

Imagine being named the worst state for business and a “hellhole” by judicial standards in the same week. 

Unfortunately, New Jersey is wearing both crowns for the second consecutive year. 

The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council released its Small Business Survival Index 2009, placing New Jersey, once again, at the bottom of its list. 

The Survey comes just after New Jersey earned the #4  spot on the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA)’s annual “Judicial Hellholes” Report –for the third consecutive year. 

Both seem to concur with the Tax Foundation’s annual study of state tax and regulatory environments, which decried New Jersey as the worst state in which to do business back in September. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

REPORT: NEW JERSEY IS A 'HELLHOLE'

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                Contact: AnnMarie McDonald

December 15, 2009                                                 (609) 649-3167

                                                                              amcdonald@njlra.org

 

 

REPORT: NEW JERSEY IS A HELLHOLE

Citing a “culture of litigation,” American Tort Reform Association says that excessive litigation has compromised access, affordability of prescription drugs; schools in Atlantic County also hurt.

 

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – A report released today by the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) places New Jersey’s courts at number 4 in its annual list of “Judicial Hellholes,” with a particularly dire situation in Atlantic County. 

“Every dollar spent defending against a groundless lawsuit is a dollar that won’t be spent on research and development, capital investment, worker training or job creation,” said ATRA President Sherman “Tiger” Joyce.  “Unfortunately for those living in Hellholes jurisdictions during this economic downturn, it can be that much harder to find or keep a job and get critical health care services as employers and doctors are driven away by the  threat of costly litigation.”

“Ninety-three percent of the lawsuits filed against our pharmaceutical companies were from out-of-state litigants, whose cases would never see the light of day in their home jurisdictions,” added Marcus Rayner, Executive Director of the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance (NJLRA).  “Instead of being the nation’s ‘medicine cabinet,’ the trial bar is turning New Jersey into the nation’s lottery ticket instead.” 

Even more alarming is the impact that excessive litigation is having on Atlantic City’s struggling school district.  The report notes that the Atlantic City School District spent roughly $1.5 million on legal services last year, more than every other school district in the state by a substantial margin.  This school year, Atlantic City has budgeted $1.16 million for its legal services, equating to approximately $184.00 for each student in the district. 

“We have a lot of problems, and a lot of lawsuits… we’re trying to recoup costs for frivolous lawsuits,” said School Superintendent Fredrick P. Nickles. 

The full text of ATRA’s report can be found on NJLRA’s website, http://njlra.org

 

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The New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance (NJLRA) is a statewide, bipartisan group of businesses, individuals and organizations committed to improving the State’s civil justice system by advocating for legal reforms in the legislature and in the courts. NJLRA believes a balanced civil justice system is critical to ensuring fair and open courts, maintaining and attracting jobs and fostering economic growth in New Jersey. NJLRA is the only organization in New Jersey dedicated exclusively to civil justice reform.