A selection of the need-to-know civil justice news for the week of March 4-10.
How To Become A Judge
Sen. Kevin OToole | Insider NJ
“The Governor shall nominate and appoint, with the advice and consent of the Senate, the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, the Judges of the Superior Court, and the judges of the inferior courts with jurisdiction extending to more than one municipality; except that upon the abolition of the juvenile and domestic relations courts or family court and county district courts as provided by law, the judges of those former courts shall become the Judges of the Superior Court without nomination by the governor or confirmation by the Senate.”
That’s Article 6 section 6 of the New Jersey Constitution and it outlines the power to appoint judges to the executive branch with co-equal commitment by the legislature to advise and consent.
Now let’s talk about what really happens…
Malpractice Fight: Time Is Of The Essence
Brett Johnson | NJBIZ
A legislative bout that began eight years ago to shorten New Jersey’s statute of limitations for malpractice claims filed against professionals is starting another round.
Cap On Appeal Bonds Could Help Firms Stay Afloat During Appeals
Brett Johnson | NJBIZ
What sounds like a quibble in the legal world actually makes a huge difference for businesses. At least that’s the argument from the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute in its push to put a cap on appeal bonds. These bonds are verdict awards posted by a defendant upon proceedings concluding in favor of plaintiffs, prior to a defendant fighting for a judgment reversal.
Berkeley Will Delete Online Content
Carl Straumsheim | Insider Higher Ed
The University of California, Berkeley, will cut off public access to tens of thousands of video lectures and podcasts in response to a U.S. Justice Department order that it make the educational content accessible to people with disabilities.
Follow @NJCivilJustice on Twitter for even more news.
Certain New Jersey businesses have a hard time appealing verdicts against them because it is simply too expensive to do so. The cost comes not just from the expense of hiring attorneys, but from having to post a bond for the full amount of an adverse verdict before being allowed to appeal. In this day and age, eye-popping jury verdicts are not uncommon, but financial regulations and the nature of certain businesses makes it challenging to get funding for appeal bonds.
This issue was highlighted in a recent article in the business newspaper NJBIZ. The article points out that professional services firms, technology companies, and other businesses that lack hard assets they can use for appeal bond collateral are being priced out of the market for justice.
New Jersey is one of a handful of states that has taken action to make appeal bonds fairer, but only for the tobacco industry.
“We think the cap that industry enjoys should be extended to all businesses,” Rayner said. “Companies should be able to appeal up to the Supreme Court and their bank account shouldn’t be a limiting factor.”
An example Rayner believes demonstrates its potential impact is a 2007 case involving BDO International, an accounting firm that has a United States arm with an office in Woodbridge. The firm was held liable for $522 million in a Florida court ruling that was later overturned at the state’s Supreme Court level.
The firm, which had around 2,700 employees, was able to appeal with a bond capped at $50 million instead of the full $522 million due to legislation that had been enacted in Florida only the previous year.
Ralph Thomas, CEO and executive director at New Jersey Society of CPAs, said firms in similar situations in New Jersey would likely have been closing the doors instead of getting their day in court.
Click here to read the full article in NJBIZ (subscription required).
Click here to learn more about NJCJI’s effort to cap our state’s appeal bond for all defendants.
Our court system shouldn’t have to deal with suits over the length of sandwiches, amusement park rides that make kids too dizzy, and gassy co-workers. But it does.
Why? Because numerous state laws explicitly encourage litigation when other means of dispute resolution would be quicker and more cost effective; poorly drafted statutes invite endless lawsuits over their interpretation; and antiquated policies limit the ability of our state to improve its legal climate.
Things have gotten so far off track, New Jersey has been named one of the nation’s worst “judicial hellholes.” At this point, there is nowhere to go but up, and the time is right to make changes, both legislatively and via judicial action.
Click here to read our 2017 agenda, which is focused on bringing some common sense reform to our legal system.
$115 million dollars. That’s how much money a jury in Florida thinks the internet media company Gawker should have to pay Hulk Hogan to compensate the former WWE Superstar for the damage he suffered when the company posted a video of the Hulkster having sex with his then-best friend’s wife on their website. The jury also tacked on $15 million in punitive damages just for good measure. Gawker has announced it will appeal, but can it afford to? If this lawsuit was based in New Jersey, the answer might be no. Continue reading
Did you know New Jersey is one of only eleven states where the court system is required to give tobacco companies a benefit that other defendants are denied? It’s true. As part of the Master Settlement Agreement reached in 1998, New Jersey agreed to put a cap on the amount of money tobacco companies must post as bond in order to appeal adverse verdicts in exchange for money and other concessions from the 5 tobacco companies involved in the litigation. To this day, tobacco companies are the only defendants in New Jersey that get the benefit of an appeal bond cap. Continue reading
In this era of increased governmental regulations, lawyers are flush with potential causes for action. Even the most diligent businesses can find themselves on the wrong side of civil litigation. A key protection against an unfair civil verdict is the ability to seek recourse through an appeal. Continue reading
Putting a limit on the amount of money a businesses has to post as a bond before appealing a decision they disagree with is an issue the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute has been working on for many years. While our legislature fails to act, other states are moving forward on this issue, putting New Jersey at a further disadvantage when it comes to economic development and business growth. Continue reading
NERA Economic Consulting has released a new study on consumer class action settlements that indicates the number of such cases is steadily growing. The data also indicates that New Jersey is one of the most popular jurisdictions for filing consumer class actions.
S-3030, the Economic Opportunity Act of 2013 II, advanced from the Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday, November 14th. Part of a larger economic growth package, Section 3 would cap appeal bonds at $50 million.
New Jersey law requires a defendant to post an appeal bond at least equal to the full amount of the judgment. However, in 2003 the Legislature approved a $50 million cap on appeal bonds for tobacco companies that participated in the Master Settlement Agreement.
This bill would extend that cap to all defendants. Under the bill, a court would have discretion, after notice and hearing and for good cause shown, to reduce the appeal bond to an amount lower than the judgment.
The bill is sponsored by Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-Union). It now heads to the Senate Budget Committee for additional review.