259 posts categorized "Legal Reform"

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" »

NJCJI’s Crash Course in Civil Justice Reform a Success

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

Continue reading "NJCJI’s Crash Course in Civil Justice Reform a Success" »

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" »

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

NJCJI Making Progress on Class Action Reform

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


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


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


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


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Christie Outlines Budget Priorities

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


Continue reading "Christie Outlines Budget Priorities" »

Thursday, February 13, 2014

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Proposed Changes to Federal Discovery Rules

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


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


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


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


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


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


Additional Resources:

Draft Rules & Request for Comments

Comments Submitted via Regulations.gov

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

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

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

Lawyers for Civil Justice Briefing Points on Proposed FRCP Changes 1.3.14

Lawyers for Civil Justice Backgrounder - Proposed FRCP Changes

Lawyers for Civil Justice Backgrounder - The FRCP Rulemaking Process


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" »

Session Scorecard

Though the 216th Session of the New Jersey Legislature has just started, a number of bills of interest to NJCJI have already been filed. Click here to view the Session Scorecard and check back often as we will keep it updated throughout the session with the status of bills we both support and oppose.

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

2014 Legislative Agenda

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

Continue reading "2014 Legislative Agenda" »

Good Samaritan Bill Passes Unanimously, Awaits Governor’s Signature

As the previous legislative session wound down, the Senate voted 36-0 in favor of an important piece of legislation that would grant immunity from liability for certain professional services rendered during emergencies.

Continue reading "Good Samaritan Bill Passes Unanimously, Awaits Governor’s Signature" »

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.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Legislative Update

Opportunity to Compete Act / "Ban the Box" A-3837

NJLRA Opposes

Status: Second Reading in Assembly

The Assembly Labor Committee advanced legislation on 12/16 which would prohibit employers from asking about a job applicant's criminal history until after the candidate has received a conditional offer of employment.  Only then could the employer conduct a background check or ask whether the person had ever been arrested or convicted of a crime.  If the applicant does have a criminal record, A-3837 restricts what types of crime can warrant rescinding that job offer. 

NJLRA is concerned that this legislation will expose businesses to liability.  Its companion bill, S-2586, has been referred to the Senate Labor Committee. 


Economic Opportunity Act II S-3030

NJLRA Supports

Status: Withdrawn from Consideration

The Economic Opportunity Act II of 2013 included a provision to cap appeal bonds at $50 million, which has been sought by the business community for years.  It advanced through the Senate Economic Growth Committee and was second referenced to the Senate Budget Committee before being withdrawn from consideration. 


"Good Samaritan Act" A-3694

NJLRA Supports

Status: Posted for Assembly vote on 12/19

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.  What made Alabama's hospitality possible is a Good Samaritan Law which protects such volunteers from frivolous litigation.  A-3694 would allow New Jersey to welcome the same volunteerism during future natural disasters

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

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. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

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

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

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Wins for Lesniak, Gill

Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) and Senator Nia Gill (D-Essex) defeated primary challengers earlier this week.  Senator Lesniak, who chairs the Economic Growth Committee, easily defeated Roselle school board member Donna Obe.  Senator Gill, who chairs the Commerce Committee, defeated law professor Mark Alexander. 

Both Lesniak and Gill serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Legislative update: Social media and statute of limitations

The General Assembly is scheduled to consider changes requested by Governor Christie to the so-called ‘Facebook bill,’ which would prohibit employers from asking for the passwords and login information of current and prospective employees, on Monday, May 20th.  The bill, A-2878, was conditionally vetoed by the Governor last week, citing concerns that sections 4 and 5 would “paint with too broad a brush” and prevent employers from making informed choices about hires for positions requiring social media credentials.   Assembly sponsor John Burizchelli (D-Gloucester) has stated that even with the Governor’s changes, "the integrity of the bill is intact."

The State Senate voted to revise a bill to extend the civil statute of limitations in certain previously dismissed and time-barred cases on Monday, May 13th.  New Jersey’s business community fears that the legislation, S-2281, would leave institutions which serve children vulnerable to unfounded accusations and offer little recourse.  The bill substitution can be found here. 

Monday, March 04, 2013

Lacking support, S-2460 held by Senate Commerce Committee

The so-called 'bad faith' bill was held by the Senate Commerce Committee, due to a lack of support. 


Bad faith bill is bad policy for New Jersey


Read NJCJI's position here

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. 

Thursday, February 07, 2013

A-1831 unanimously clears Assembly Health Panel

In our ongoing quest to keep good doctors practicing in New Jersey, NJLRA supported A-1831 before the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee, which advanced it with bipartisan support.

If enacted, A-1831 would help lower liability insurance premiums, which is frequently cited as a key reason for New Jersey’s so-called medical brain drain.  Insurance premiums begin to increase the moment a lawsuit is filed.  This bill would prevent insurance carriers from raising liability premiums based on a claim of medical practice, unless the physician is found liable in court.  It would also prohibit insurers from increasing liability premiums in certain charitable or emergency situations. 

A-1831 is an important first step to help reverse the public crisis of doctors fleeing our state, which is expected to worsen significantly in the next few years.  

Practicing specialized medicine in New Jersey is comparatively difficult for recent medical school graduates.  In addition to their student loans, new doctors must bear New Jersey’s high cost of liability insurance premiums.  Specialties which carry some of the highest premiums, including obstetrics and gynecology, disproportionately impact New Jersey women.  It is no longer cost effective for many existing OBGYNs in New Jersey to deliver babies, and many have stopped doing so altogether. 

We thank the committee and Chairman Conaway for their advancement of this measure. 

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Assembly Health Committee to hear medical liability reform measure

The Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee is scheduled to hear A-1831 on Thursday, marking an important step toward addressing deep concerns about the cost of liability insurance within the medical community.   

Sponsored by Chairman Herb Conaway (D-Burlington), A-1831 would prevent insurance carriers from raising liability premiums based on a claim of medical practice, unless the physician is found liable in court, and would prohibit insurers from increasing liability premiums in certain charitable or emergency situations. 

This legislation would also provide civil immunity to healthcare professionals who volunteer their services in good faith.  Civil immunity would be available to volunteer healthcare professionals who do not have an active provider-patient at the time of the emergency.  As our population outpaces the number of physicians we need to adequately care for the health of New Jersey residents, volunteer healthcare professionals will become increasingly important.  By offering civil immunity to these volunteer medical personnel, A-1831 takes a step toward addressing our New Jersey’s public health needs. 

Practicing specialized medicine in New Jersey is comparatively difficult for recent medical school graduates.  In addition to their student loans, new doctors must bear New Jersey’s high cost of liability insurance premiums.  Specialties which carry some of the highest premiums, including obstetrics and gynecology, disproportionately impact New Jersey women.  It is no longer cost effective for many existing OBGYNs in New Jersey to deliver babies, and many have stopped doing so altogether.  It’s not just a matter of addressing a significant healthcare cost-driver; it’s also about ensuring that New Jersey residents – especially women – have access to medical care.   

The hearing will take place at 10 a.m. in committee room 16.

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.  

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.

Monday, December 03, 2012

The "Facebook bill" will be heard in the Assembly today - urge legislators to read section 5 before voting!

A-2878, referred to as the “Facebook bill,” would prohibit employers from asking for certain social networking information from employees and prospective employees.  The bill’s intention to protect employees’ privacy is laudable; however, a provision in Section 5 of the legislation creates an unnecessary hardship for New Jersey’s business community and may place an additional strain on our court system.  This section would create a new opportunity for current, former, and prospective employees to sue New Jersey businesses. 

Under this provision, employers or businesses who seek to hire an employee to administer their company’s social media communications would risk a lawsuit if they ask a prospective employee about his or her social media experience.  An unqualified job applicant would be given the right to seek monetary compensation if social networking was raised even in casual context during the interview process or later as an employee.  New Jersey would be the only state in which an employee or prospective employee would have such leverage, contributing to a hostile business climate in which unemployment outpaces the national average.   Even if an employer is found to have committed no violation of this act, time and capital will be needed for a defense.  Small businesses would be hurt most by litigation, as it can take up to $70,000 to resolve even the most clearly meritless cases. 

As New Jersey seeks to rebuild after the events of Hurricane Sandy, it is critical that we do not impose unintended disadvantages on our state’s economic backbone.  California, Maryland and Illinois have taken steps to protect employees’ privacy without exposing their business community to new and expensive liability in addition to penalties.  Please urge legislators to consider amending or removing Section 5.   

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, October 03, 2012

ICYMI: Read NJLRA’s Letter-to-the-Editor in the Asbury Park Press

Reforms to liability laws might keep doctors in N.J.

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. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

NJCJI welcomes Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. to Annual Membership Luncheon

President Marcus Rayner greets Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean (R-Union) at NJCJI's annual Fall Membership Luncheon

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, president of the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute.  "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.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Register for NJLRA’s Annual Fall Membership Luncheon!

With fall just around the corner, it’s time to register for NJLRA’s annual Fall Membership Luncheon!  This year’s speaker will be Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr.  It will take place on Thursday, September 13th at noon at the Trenton Country Club.

Time flies, so register today! 

 Click here to register online.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Protecting volunteers may expand healthcare in Trenton, NJ

As our nation continues to debate health insurance mandates and cost-drivers that left preventative medicine out of reach for many, volunteer doctors quietly set up shop in some of New Jersey’s most underserved communities, trying to alleviate public health burdens on a patient-by-patient basis. 

Trenton is one of these communities.  In a Trenton Times report earlier this week, City Health Officer James Brownlee explained that years of funding cuts forced its clinics to greatly reduce the services they could offer. 

But there may be light at the end of the tunnel.  And that light is federal “free clinic” status.

According to the Times, such a designation would provide “essential malpractice insurance for a new staff of volunteer doctors, nurses, and other professionals who have retired from local hospitals,” bringing with it an opportunity for clinics to begin expanding their outreach once again.   

Medical liability insurance is routinely cited by New Jersey’s medical community as a disincentive for doctors to practice in the Garden State.  Such premiums, particularly for OB-GYNs, are significantly higher than premiums in other states. 

New Jersey faces a doctor shortage by the end of the decade if we simply do nothing.  Physicians who volunteer a portion of their retirement to continue treating patients help close a gap that we have yet to fill – a gap that will only increase as the number of physicians per capita decreases. 

Some aren’t convinced that assuaging doctors’ concerns about medical liability insurance increases access to care.  But in some of Trenton’s most underserved neighborhoods, it’s clear that it may make a world of difference.    

Assemblyman Herb Conaway is the sponsor of A-2178, which would provide civil immunity for certain volunteer physicians, nonprofit clinics, and federally qualified health centers.  It was second-referenced to the Assembly Judiciary Committee after passing favorably from the Health and Senior Services Committee in May.  Chairman Peter Barnes has not indicated whether he will post it for a vote. 

The bill’s Senate counterpart, S-1165, has the bipartisan support of Senators Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) and Diane Allen (R-Burlington). 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Christie, Romney, and Legal Reform

Paul Ryan is Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential pick.  This means Governor Christie officially belongs to New Jersey for at least another 16 months. 

With movement on pension and education reform, legal reform and medical liability reform may rise on the Governor’s agenda.  The need for legal reform has grown more apparent in recent months as studies confirmed that New Jersey will face a shortage of physicians by the end of the decade.  The State Senate unanimously passed legislation authorizing DHSS to convene a summit to analyze the shortage’s implications for New Jersey residents; its Assembly counterpart, A-1828, awaits action by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee. 

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

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.    

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

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


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

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

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

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


Thursday, June 21, 2012

“Ambulance-chaser” bills advance

On Monday, the Assembly Judiciary Committee advanced legislation to prevent accident reports from being made available to the general public for 90 days following an accident.  Such reports are often aggressively sought by trial lawyers, which prompted Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz to dub the legislation, A-801, the “ambulance chaser bill.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a similar measure on Thursday, which would bar solicitation for 30 days following an accident.  S-761 is sponsored by Senator Nicholas Scutari

According to a report by Michael Booth in the New Jersey Law Journal, constituents often expressed concern to the legislators after receiving pieces of mail from attorneys referencing their “upcoming court case.”   The current Assembly version of the bill would require the word “advertisement” to be included on such mailers, in capital letters.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Legislative Alert: Insurance Fraud, False Claims Legislation to be heard on Monday

A-944, which establishes and enhances certain insurance fraud measures, will be heard in the Assembly Financial Institutions Committee on Monday, June 18th
at 10 a.m. in Committee Room 15

NJLRA supports A-944


A-2165, which would change the effective date of the New Jersey False Claims Act, will be heard in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on
Monday, June 18th
at 10 a.m. in Committee Room 12

NJLRA opposes A-2165

Please contact Marcus Rayner for more information about either of the above.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Until further notice, the halls of justice will be closed

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

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

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

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