266 posts categorized "Lawsuits"

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" »

Credit Card Receipt Spawns Class Action

“There was no foul. No one had a problem until a lawyer saw this and he filed a suit against us,” Friedman said. “But if we fight it, we’re not going to win.”

 

Continue reading "Credit Card Receipt Spawns Class Action" »

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 28, 2014

Snow Contractors Lobby Legislators for Common Sense Legal Reform

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

Continue reading "Snow Contractors Lobby Legislators for Common Sense Legal Reform" »

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

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

Continue reading "The Legislative Trend That’s Increasing Your Liability: Fee-Shifting" »

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

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

Jessica Beym | South Jersey Times

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

Full Story.

New Jersey State Bar Association Task Force on Judicial Independence

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

 

Continue reading "New Jersey State Bar Association Task Force on Judicial Independence" »

State Collects Over $300 Million in Settlements in 2013

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

 

Continue reading "State Collects Over $300 Million in Settlements in 2013" »

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Kids These Days

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

 

Continue reading "Kids These Days" »

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

Bridgegate Update

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

Continue reading "Bridgegate Update" »

Ridiculous Lawsuits

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

Continue reading "Ridiculous Lawsuits" »

Pharmaceutical Litigation Makes Headlines

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

Continue reading "Pharmaceutical Litigation Makes Headlines" »

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

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

The Plot to Make Big Food Pay

Helena Bottemiller Evich | Politico

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

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

Full Story.

 

Debate Resumes Over Shortening Legal Malpractice Suit Time Limits

David Gialanella | New Jersey Law Journal

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

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

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

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

Full Story.

 

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

Seth Augenstein | The Star-Ledger

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

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

Full Story.

 

Statute Regulating Step-Down Provisions Does Not Apply Retroactively

Debra McLoughlin | New Jersey Law Journal

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

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

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

Full Story.

 

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

Michael Barone | Washington Examiner

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

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

Full Story.

 

Garlock Ruling Gives Asbestos Defendants Discovery Hammer

Sindhu Sundar | Law360

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

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

Full Story.

 

Busting the Asbestos Racket

Opinion | Wall Street Journal

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

Full Story.

 

Christie Should Keep Rabner as Supreme Court Chief Justice: Opinion

Ralph J. Lamparello | Star Ledger

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

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

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

Full Story.

 

Thursday, February 06, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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" »

U.S. Chamber Highlights Litigation Concerns in New Jersey

The latest report from the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform highlights litigation trends from across the country, and not surprisingly New Jersey is cast in an unfavorable light. New Jersey is noted as a hot spot for asbestos bankruptcy trust fraud and false claims act litigation. In addition, the report claims New Jersey is second only to California in the number of food related class action suits filed in the state, thanks largely to our state’s 6 year statute of limitations.

Continue reading "U.S. Chamber Highlights Litigation Concerns in New Jersey" »

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

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.

 

The Class Action Settlement Problem

This event is postponed because of weather. It will be rescheduled.

The New Jersey Chapter of the Federalist Society is hosting Ted Frank, Founder and President of the Center for Class Action Fairness for an event titled The Class Action Settlement Problem on Wednesday, January 22.

“Since its founding in 2009, the Center for Class Action Fairness has revolutionized the law of class action settlements. At this event, the Center’s Founder and President, Ted Frank, will discuss why class action settlements are so prone to abuse, the tactics attorneys use to enrich themselves at the expense of the class, and why consumers are better off when class action abuse is curbed.”

The event will be held on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at The Morris Museum in Morristown. 1 hour of CLE credit has been requested and appetizers will be served.

RSVP to: NJFedSoc@gmail.com

 

Court Exposes Abuse by Plaintiff Attorneys in Bankruptcy Trust Litigation

One of NJCJI’s top priorities for 2014 is advancing legislation that will bring transparency to bankruptcy trust litigation and discourage fraud so that settlement dollars are available to legitimately injured parties. The desperate need for this legislation was most recently illustrated by a ruling from U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge George Hodges revealing the “tort system was infected by the manipulation of exposure evidence by plaintiffs and their lawyers.”

Bankruptcy Judge: Plaintiffs, Lawyers Covered Up Evidence In Garlock Mesothelioma Cases: LexisNexis, Jan. 13, 2014.

Judge Finds Fraud and Deceit by Plaintiffs’ Lawyers in Asbestos Cases: Bloomberg Business Week, Jan. 13, 2014.

The Asbestos Scam, Part 2 (opinion): The New York Times, Jan. 13, 2014.

The Judge Won’t Call Asbestos-Lawyer Shenanigans Fraud, But It Sure Smells Like It: Forbes, Jan. 11, 2014.

Embattled Gasket Maker Sues Asbestos Lawyers For Fraud: Forbes, Jan. 10, 2014.

Judge Slashes Asbestos Liability In Garlock Bankruptcy To $125 Million: Forbes, Jan. 10, 2014

While the asbestos trusts are currently the most well-known types of these trusts thanks to the relentless television ads by plaintiffs’ attorneys, they are not the only such trusts. Any company filing for bankruptcy that faces potential legal claims can set up a trust to streamline and resolve claims.

As a state with a strong manufacturing sector and a court system known for allowing questionable claims to move forward, New Jersey businesses stand to lose if double-dipping and fraud are not limited.

 

Top News Clips for the Week of Jan. 13-17

 

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.

 

Judge Questions Whether $765 NFL Concussions Settlement is Enough

Cindy Boren | Washington Post

A federal judge in Philadelphia issued a preliminary rejection of a $765 million settlement of concussion claims by more than 4,500 former NFL players on Tuesday, ruling that the amount agreed upon may be insufficient to cover payouts, medical tests and treatments.

Full Story.

 

Will Consumer Class Actions vs. Target Survive?

By Alison Frankel | Reuters

Who doesn't empathize with the 70 million Target customers whose private information was supposedly hacked?

No one likes to worry about identity theft and impaired credit ratings, the odds of which, according to Reuters, drastically increase for data breach victims. But that doesn't mean Target customers have a cause of action in federal court.

Full Story.

 

Litigation Finance Firm Raises $260 Million for New Fund

By William Alden | New York Times DealBook

An upstart investment firm that bets on lawsuits has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for its second fund.

The firm, Gerchen Keller Capital, is expected to announce on Monday that it has amassed about $260 million for the fund, bringing its total investor commitments to $310 million. The fresh capital, coming less than a year after Gerchen Keller opened its doors, underscores investors’ confidence in an obscure corner of Wall Street that has gained adherents in recent years.

Litigation finance, as the business is known, often involves bankrolling plaintiffs in exchange for a slice of the lawsuit’s potential winnings.

Full Story.

 

Corporate Takeover? In 2013, a Lawsuit Almost Always Followed

By Steven M. Davidoff | New York Times DealBook

These days, you can be sure that when a company announces it is being acquired, it will also be sued by a bevy of plaintiffs’ lawyers.

Full Story.

 

N.J. Senate Confirms Robert Hanna as Superior Court Judge

By Alexi Friedman | Star-Ledger

As Gov. Chris Christie’s choice for state Supreme Court judge, Robert Hanna waited a year for a confirmation hearing that never came. Senate Democrats blocked his selection and another Christie nominee to fill a different seat on the high court, fearing they would cause partisan imbalance.

Full Story.

 

Ceremony for Newest N.J. Justice, Fernandez-Vina, Set for Friday

By Salvador Rizzo | The Star-Ledger

The newest associate justice on the state Supreme Court, Faustino Fernandez-Vina, will be sworn in Friday in a ceremony at Rutgers University in Camden, the court announced today.

Fernandez-Vina, a Republican who was appointed last year by Gov. Chris Christie, joined the court Nov. 19 and has been hearing cases already.

Full Story.

 

BP Appeal to Stop 'Fictitious' U.S. Oil Spill Claims Fails

By Reuters

One of BP's attempts to curb payouts for what it says are "fictitious" and "absurd" claims related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill has failed after a legal appeal was rejected by a U.S. court.

Full Story.

 

Bill Protecting Rescue Squads from Lawsuits Hits a Dead End with Change of Legislative Session

By MaryAnn Spoto | The Star-Ledger

A bill protecting rescue squads from civil lawsuits stopped dead in its tracks Tuesday after the legislative session ended without the state Senate voting on the measure.

Full Story.

Friday, November 22, 2013

When we wish you a happy, safe and lawsuit-free Thanksgiving... we mean it!

TurkeyIf you think America's litigious culture is a recent trend, think again.  Back in 1938, Ms. Helen Silva was enjoying a turkey dinner at Woolworth’s restaurant when she choked on a small bone.  A bystander came to her rescue, but she sued the restaurant for $36 in medical fees and embarrassment.  The bone was ultimately found to be native to turkeys (imagine that), nixing Woolworth's liability and the $500 judgment rendered against it. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

One year after Sandy, a bill to welcome Good Samaritans in New Jersey

When natural disasters strike, indiscriminate in wrath and sometimes unprecedented in destruction, at least one fact generally applies: volunteers are needed to help recover and rebuild

Hundreds of licensed architects and engineers headed to parts of Alabama following their devastating tornados in 2011, contributing thousands of hours in pro-bono inspections.  And Assembly Majority Lou Greenwald is hoping that legislation he introduced in Sandy's aftermath will allow New Jersey to welcome the same volunteerism during future natural disasters

What made Alabama's hospitality possible is a Good Samaritan Law which protects such volunteers from frivolous litigation.  Greenwald's bill, A-3694, would provide immunity to licensed architects and engineers who volunteer at the scene of a declared emergency at the request of authorities. 

Greenwald is hoping to advance the measure during the lame-duck session.  It has been referred to the Assembly Regulated Professions Committee and is cosponsored by Assemblywomen Handlin and Jasey. 

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Spilling hot coffee gets hotter

It’s been nearly twenty years since Stella Liebeck made the first McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit famous by spilling coffee in her own lap and suing the fast food chain.

But becoming a posterchild for our overly litigious culture has done little to discourage copycats, as a McDonald’s in River Edge, Bergen County discovered this week. 

A Florida man who was visiting family in Bergen County two years ago is now coming forward with a suit against McDonald’s in River Edge, alleging that an employee “failed to properly secure the lid,” which apparently induces a lack of consumer coordination and second-degree burns. 

The comments below from NJ.com capture the sentiment well:

Post1

 

Notes: This suit is not to be confused with the New Jersey resident who filed suit against a chain of Wawa stores for selling hot, highly-spillable coffee last month.  And yes, McDonald happens to be the surname of yours truly.  It is purely coincidental, as I am not affiliated with the defending company in any way. 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

'Bad faith' bill is bad policy for New Jersey

S-2460, the covertly dubbed “Consumer Protection Act of 2012,” is a new lease on trial lawyers’ attempt to create a new cause of action for ‘bad faith’ (S-766/A-3434).

That bill, S-2460, is now scheduled for a hearing on Monday, March 4th, in the Senate Commerce Committee. 

Proponents argue that this bill will help policyholders who have been affected by Superstorm Sandy by codifying existing case law, protecting their right to sue insurance companies who fail to pay claims to which they are entitled.  In reality, it adds uncertainty and greater consumer costs to New Jersey's homeowners' insurance market:
  • Very few victims of Sandy will be helped.  Those who lacked flood coverage, had inadequate coverage limits, or could not afford their deductible could not file suit under this bill.
  • Policyholders would be able to recover damages in excess of the terms of their insurance contract.  In addition, they would be able to file for attorneys' fees, court costs, and prejudgment interest dating to the time the suit was filed.   
  • All New Jersey insurance customers, including businesses which purchase commercial insurance, will pay higher insurance premiums as a result.

And as we noted last month, many of us opt for lower premiums in exchange for higher deductibles.  Others quickly sign on the dotted line and hope we never meet the devil lurking in the details.  But when the worst happens, as many New Jerseyans experienced late last year, customers expect their insurer to cover their losses as defined in their coverage. 

New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Co. (NJM) CEO Bernie Flynn told a legislative committee last month that they expect payouts to reach $300 million.  State Farm has made a point of expediting their 30,000 Sandy-related claims.  On some occasions, however, an insurer may fail to live up to their end of the agreement and deny payment to a customer.  New Jersey consumers are able to file suit against their insurer in these instances.  But recently reintroduced legislation threatens to add more bureaucracy and litigation into an already stressed civil justice system. 

S-2460, the covertly dubbed “Consumer Protection Act of 2012,” is a new lease on trial lawyers’ attempt to create a new cause of action for ‘bad faith’ (S-766/A-3434).  It wouldn’t simply codify existing case law with respect to ‘bad faith;’ rather, a court would only need to find that an insurer acted ‘unreasonably’ in order to win a bad faith case, adding subjectivity and the potential for awards beyond one’s coverage. 

Acting Department of Banking and Insurance commissioner Kenneth Kobylowski noted that New Jersey’s strong homeowners’ insurance market had rates near the national average despite having property values among the highest in the country. 

"To have average premiums in the middle of the marketplace is just a testament to how stable, how competitive and how well-run our homeowners' market is," he told NJ BIZ

But if the cost of doing business increases for New Jersey’s insurance industry, we can all expect our premiums to rise. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Subway is the latest example of why NJ's Consumer Fraud Act needs fixing

We can tell you that New Jersey’s courtrooms are among the nation’s easiest in which to file a ridiculous lawsuit, but sometimes the weaknesses of the NJCFA speak for themselves. 

Two New Jersey residents contend that the size of their ‘footlong’ sub from Subway fell short of twelve inches.  And with a straight face, they were able to file a lawsuit under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act with ease.  Their lawyer is seeking class-action status on behalf of everyone who’s purchased one and meets the criteria. 

A recent NJ BIZ article (Advocates hope bill takes bite out of N.J. fraud law / Jared Kaltwasser, 2/4/13)) examines a possible remedy for the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, sponsored by Assemblyman Craig Coughlin.  A-3264 has been referred to the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

And the worst lawsuit of 2012 is...

Carteret resident Ellen Shane’s “Thanks for saving my life.  That’ll cost you $5 million” lawsuit.    

  2012 worst lawsuit

When Carteret resident Ellen Shane was taken hostage at knifepoint at Woodbridge Center Mall earlier this year, a Woodbridge Township police officer valiantly saved her life, shooting the hostage taker as he lunged toward Shane and her husband.  His thanks?  The couple filed a $5 million lawsuit against the police department, claiming that she was traumatized.  Read More

Shane ‘won’ this infamous distinction with nearly 2/3 of the vote, our widest Worst Lawsuit margin to date.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our poll! 

Monday, January 14, 2013

A-3282 Passes Assembly Health Committee with Bipartisan Support

A-3282 clarifies that first aid, ambulance or rescue squads, as entities, have immunity from civil damages in certain circumstances

While this may seem to be a routine legislative clarification, the catalyst case, Murray v. Plainfield Rescue Squad, was eye-opening. 

In August 2004, a young man was shot by his own brother.  Alive and able to speak, his parents immediately called 911.  The Plainfield Rescue Squad arrived by ambulance and fruitlessly performed CPR; some believe that if he had instead been immediately transported to the hospital, Odis Murray would have had a 20 – 30 percent chance of survival. 

The Murrays decided to file a wrongful death lawsuit – not against their other son, Akeem Murray, who intentionally fired the shot that killed Odis – but against the Plainfield Rescue Squad

A lower court found that the because the Squad provided “intermediate life support services in good faith,” they were protected from civil liability under N.J.S.A. 26:2K-29, also known as the Good Samaritan Act. 

The Supreme Court ultimately disagreed.  The spirit of the act was to protect volunteers acting in good faith from liability so as to not dissuade volunteer responders from helping in the first place.  While it specified who would be protected, it did not define ‘rescue squads’ clearly enough for the Court’s liking. 

“The Legislature chose to provide immunity to volunteer rescue squads and to rescue squads rendering advanced life support services,” wrote Justice Barry Albin in a unanimous decision.  “By the clear language of N.J.S.A. 26:2K-29, the Legislature chose not to provide immunity to rescue squads, as entities, rendering intermediate life support services.

“If the failure to provide immunity to such rescue squads was an oversight, any corrective measure must be taken by the Legislature.”

The Legislature took the first step toward clarifying the intent of the Act today.  Primary sponsors of A-3282 include Assemblymen Eric Peterson (R-Hunterdon), Anthony Bucco (R-Morris), and Chairman Herb Conaway (D-Burlington).  Its companion bill, S-2165, is sponsored by Senator Kip Bateman (R-Somerset) and has been referred to the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.   

Click here for Assemblyman Conaway's statement.  

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bad faith bill reintroduced

Superstorm Sandy did something few insurance brokers could do: it forced homeowners to, in some cases, read their insurance policies for the first time. 

Many of us opt for lower premiums in exchange for higher deductibles.  Others quickly sign on the dotted line and hope we never meet the devil lurking in the details.  But when the worst happens, as many New Jerseyans experienced late last year, customers expect their insurer to cover their losses as defined in their coverage. 

New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Co. (NJM) CEO Bernie Flynn told a legislative committee last month that they expect payouts to reach $300 million.  State Farm has made a point of expediting their 30,000 Sandy-related claims.  On some occasions, however, an insurer may fail to live up to their end of the agreement and deny payment to a customer.  New Jersey consumers are able to file suit against their insurer in these instances.  But recently reintroduced legislation threatens to add more bureaucracy and litigation into an already stressed civil justice system. 

S-2460, the covertly dubbed “Consumer Protection Act of 2012,” is a new lease on trial lawyers’ attempt to create a new cause of action for ‘bad faith’ (S-766/A-3434).  It wouldn’t simply codify existing case law with respect to ‘bad faith;’ rather, a court would only need to find that an insurer acted ‘unreasonably’ in order to win a bad faith case, adding subjectivity and the potential for awards beyond one’s coverage. 

Acting Department of Banking and Insurance commissioner Kenneth Kobylowski noted that New Jersey’s strong homeowners’ insurance market had rates near the national average despite having property values among the highest in the country. 

"To have average premiums in the middle of the marketplace is just a testament to how stable, how competitive and how well-run our homeowners' market is," he told NJ BIZ

But if the cost of doing business increases for New Jersey’s insurance industry, we can all expect our premiums to rise. 

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

The pot brownie lawsuit

A Hunterdon County Country Club may be on the hook for a prank played by two of its members. 

James Kavanagh, Jr. and Gregg Chaplin convinced their 68-year-old friend, Barry Russo, to eat a “delicious” brownie, the product of Kavanagh’s “special culinary training.”

You guessed it: the brownie was laced with pot

The behavior of Kavanagh and Chaplin may more closely resemble sophomoric teenage trouble making than the caliber of Copper Hill Country Club’s average patron.  According to the diabetic Russo, this prank may have contributed to his feeling “light-headed and dizzy,” among other ailments. 

Russo is suing the Copper Hill Country Club, its owner, and the two men for an undisclosed amount of money.  And no, neither the Copper Hill Country Club nor its owner is alleged to have participated in the lacing or ingestion of said brownie. 

Chaplin vehemently disputes Russo’s account. 

Friday, January 04, 2013

A red-light camera lawsuit that will have you seeing red

It’s not exactly a refund. 

If you were one of the half-million motorists who received a ticket in the mail courtesy of American Traffic Solution’s red light cameras, take comfort: the $85 - $140 fine you paid may not be the last word.   

The timing of yellow lights wasn’t officially recertified until July 25th, prompting lawyers to argue that fines issued before that date in eighteen of New Jersey’s municipalities should not stand.  ATS avoided a trial by agreeing to a $4.2 million class action settlement. 

But don’t celebrate just yet.  You won’t be getting the full sticker price of your erroneous ticket returned.  No.  After attorney’s fees and administrative costs, you and other red-eyed motorists will receive $6.  And that’s assuming all of your paperwork is correct. 

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) has long argued that intersections with red light cameras pose a greater risk to public safety than those without the cameras.  Accidents have increased nearly 400 percent at some intersections in just the first year of installation. 

According to the Star-Ledger, a separate class-action suit is pending against Redflex Traffic Systems, which is the red light vendor for cameras in eight other municipalities. 

Good luck to those eligible for a $6 check.  I’m sure the legal maneuvering was worth every penny.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

When a child drinks cologne, by all means, sue the doctor...

It’s a story that’s easy to miss in the post-Sandy, post-Election Day, “fiscal cliff” news cycle, but one that will stick with you for a while after learning about it. 

A New Jersey appeals court has determined that an emergency room doctor must stand trial for failing to report to the Division of Youth and Family Services that he treated a child who ingested cologne. 

The 3-year-old patient, identified in court papers as “S.A.,” was abandoned by her mother soon after birth in 1998.  The Division (DYFS) placed her in the care of her father two years later.  She was brought to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune in early 2001 by other relatives, who said that she was “walking with an unsteady gait and was observed as lethargic and weak with an unusual odor on her breath.”

From a layman’s standpoint, it appears that the emergency room doctor, Daniel Yu, performed a thorough examination, leading him to conclude (correctly) that the young child ingested cologne.  She was treated and her extended family was on its way. 

Two months after the cologne incident, DYFS received a disturbing report: S.A., still under her father’s care, had been severely burned and beaten.  She had chemical burns on various parts of her body, including her vagina.  At this point S.A. was removed from her father’s custody by the Division.  She was later adopted by the plaintiff in this case, L.A. v. DYFS, A-2726-11, who is identified as L.A. in court papers. 

 

And in 2007, L.A. filed suit – not just against the Division, which evidently had some history with the child’s family – but against Dr. Yu and Jersey Shore University Medical Center.  DYFS settled with L.A. for $5 million.  No suit was filed against the child’s abuser.  

N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.10 requires anyone who believes a child is being abused or neglected to contact DYFS.  Mercer County Superior Court Judge Paul Innes didn’t believe that a toddler ingesting a foreign substance was indicative of abuse.  It’s the sort of thing that happens in the happiest of homes from time to time, to the tune of at least 100,000 childhood emergency room visits each year.  The appellate court, however, disagreed with his assessment, and the case will be going forward. 

The medical community fears that if Dr. Yu and the hospital are found liable, doctors and hospital staff will be pressured to report abuse for tiniest of infractions, overwhelming a DYFS system that is already overwhelmed and creating an adverse affect on children’s health and well-being.  The threat of DYFS involvement may discourage parents from seeking immediate care when children swallow things they shouldn’t, mask their child’s symptoms, or even deter them from bringing their child to the emergency room altogether in order to avoid the legal scrutiny and uncertainty to follow. 

The need to reform our legal system isn’t just about the taxes we pay or improving New Jersey’s economy.  It’s also about injecting common sense into real-life situations we all face. 

So, should the doctor and hospital be found liable of malpractice for not reporting that a toddler drank cologne to DYFS, you may want to prepare yourself for a barrage of questions the next time you take your kid to the E.R. for sticking a LEGO in his ear.     

Friday, November 16, 2012

Gas cans and natural disasters become the new face of legal reform

The chaos and heartache brought about by Hurricane Sandy forced New Jerseyans to appreciate the utilities and shelter we often take for granted, and incidentally, renewed our appreciation for gasoline and the containers which store it. 

You may not realize it, but if you used a gas can during Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath, it was likely manufactured by Blitz, a company in a small Oklahoma town.  And sadly, it's now a relic of the pre-lawsuit abuse era.

Blitz sold more than 14 million cans per year for the last decade, which translates to 75 percent of all gas cans sold in the United States.  Fewer than two incidents per million cans sold were reported, and most involved obvious misuse.  Pouring gasoline from the container onto an open fire was a common theme. 

Of the 62 cases filed since 1994, only two made it to court and only of those cases was successful.  The rest were settled or dismissed, notes a New York TImes report.  Nevertheless, it still cost the Oklahoma-based company $30 million in legal fees, and presumably, higher insurance premiums to cover the additional $30 million paid by their insurance companies.   Sadly, these costs of doing business in America forced the leading manufacturer of gas cans in the United States to close its 117-person operation for good.  Buying domestic also just got a bit harder. 

For New Jerseyans who retained their homes but lost their power, gasoline offered somewhat of a lifeline for those with generators to fill.  And as shelters and motels filled to capacity, generators were able to keep more people in their homes even as temperatures dropped.  A not-so-small silver lining during a catostrophic storm.   

Of course we hope we never see a storm of Sandy's magnitude ever again.  But if we do, the absence of Blitz in our markets may make generator-powered electricity a difficult commodity to deliver.  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Legislative Updates - "Facebook bill" advances, Statute of limitations bill stalls

The State Senate advanced legislation this week that would prohibit employers from asking employees and prospective employees about their social media usage.  While intended to protect workers’ privacy, NJLRA and other business advocates stress that the so-called Facebook bill creates a new provision for workers to sue their employers, and with it, great potential for abuse.  [Learn more about S-1915].

Legislation to amend New Jersey’s statute of limitations in certain civil cases was held from consideration by the full Senate.  NJLRA and other business advocates have voiced concerns about both S-1651 and S-2281.  [Learn more about NJLRA’s position].

Friday, October 05, 2012

Legislative Update - The "Facebook bill"

S-1915, which prohibits employers and prospective employers from requesting access to workers’ social networking accounts, was passed by the full Senate.  While NJLRA applauds the sponsors’ intent to protect employees’ privacy, the Senate did not amend Section 5 which would give current and prospective employees new grounds to sue businesses. 

NJLRA supported removing this clause.  Casual conversation over the mere existence of a social networking page with a subordinate, for instance, would become a thing of the past. Forgetting that could cost employers tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees – and it also gives the disgruntled ex-employee or the unqualified job applicant unprecedented leverage over their employer.   

Previous post.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Seeing Red All Over

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now if only I could figure out how to collect. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Our legal system in a nutshell

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

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 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

Friday, July 27, 2012

Rayner on Aurora Massacre: Don’t blame Warner Brothers

Listen to executive director Marcus Rayner discuss the first of what is expected to be many lawsuits stemming from the movie theatre massacre in Aurora, Colorado on 1210 WPHT Philadelphia with Rich Zeoli. 

“There’s only one person who’s responsible, and it’s the guy who’s been arrested.”

The controversial lawsuit was filed by a survivor of the massacre who was not physically injured.  His lawyers say they are considering filing suit against everyone from Warner Brothers to the shooter’s doctors, to the move theater itself.  The suspect, who was unemployed, does not seem to make the cut.   

You can listen to the entire segment here: http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/personality/rich-zeoli/#

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

TMZ: First Lawsuit Over James Holmes Massacre. Lawyer says "Somebody has to be responsible for the rampant violence that is shown today."

Yes, that would be the killer. 

A survivor of the Aurora, Colorado theatre massacre has hired an attorney and plans to file suit for his extreme emotional distress.  According to TMZ, Torrence Brown, Jr. and his attorney are considering who to target for compensation – the movie theatre, the shooters’ doctors, or Warner Brothers.  The alleged shooter, who was unemployed, apparently doesn’t make the cut. 

It’s not surprising that this massacre, like so many before it, has revived a national conversation about gun control.  Governor Christie has said that such a debate is premature for a nation in mourning.  But what is as surprising as it is appalling, however, is the speed at which Brown’s attorney unabashedly began screening potential defendants to vet the best way to leverage our legal system for financial gain. 

Brown wasn’t physically injured, but his friend, eighteen-year-old A.J. Boik, was shot in the chest and died.  

Funerals for A.J. and other victims will take place later this week.    

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. 

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Have a happy, safe, and lawsuit-free 4th of July from NJLRA!

Red light cameras proponents say such cameras at intersections make our roads safer, deterring motorists from running them and causing serious accidents.  But many New Jersey motorists and taxpayers criticize them as being unfair for failing to take justifiable conditions into consideration, a fundraiser for cash-strapped government entities, a great way to get rear-ended by tailgaters, if not all of the above. 

Two South Jersey residents filed the first putative class-action lawsuit against Cherry Hill Township last month.  They say that yellow signals are too short at such intersections, in violation of regulations set by the Legislature in 2008, and a refund is issued to drivers.  The refunds would be administered by a court-supervised program.  It’s unclear how much (if anything) individual motorists would reclaim once attorneys’ fees and administrative costs are calculated. 

Read more in the New Jersey Law Journal.