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.
Bill Spadea, the host of the Chasing News TV program and frequent guest host on NJ 101.5, wants to know what New Jersians think about frivolous litigation and the potential to curb it by instituting a loser pays system. Let him know what you think by tweeting @nj1015 and @BillSpadea.
A number of New Jersey’s state regulatory provisions specify statutory penalties for violations. Having a defined penalty enhances predictability and reduces inconsistent application of the law. When the statutes provide for enforcement actions by individual consumers, the statutory penalty model has the potential to provide the individual with a straightforward means of redress, often without need to even hire an attorney. Attorneys are getting involved though, and it is leading us toward a system where businesses are being regulated one jury at a time. Continue reading →
Did you know that New Jersey lawyers are 70% more likely than their counterparts nationwide to file a claim with their malpractice insurer? Even attorneys practicing in our notoriously litigious neighboring states face fewer malpractice claims. This suggests that one of two things is going on. Either New Jersey attorneys are awful, or there is something about our legal system that is encouraging excessive litigation. Data provided to the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute by CNA insurance suggests that the latter reason is more likely to blame for the high number of malpractice claims filed in the Garden State.
New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act has been expanded over the years by the courts and the legislature to the point where it is no longer focused on protecting consumers from fraud. It is instead a catch-all claim that is pulled into all sorts of disputes – consumers and fraud optional. A few recent cases really illustrate this point. Continue reading →
New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act has been turned into an instrument through which the plaintiff’s bar plays “gotcha,” turning harmless technical regulatory violations into cases which generate huge attorneys fees, and no real benefit for the consumers supposedly “harmed.” NJCJI is counting down the top 10 most absurd lawsuits filed under the CFA. Continue reading →
The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act was enacted in 1960 to protect New Jersey citizens against deceptive business practices. As one of the first consumer protection laws in the country, it served as the model for similar legislation in many other states.
The CFA was such an effective tool that the legislature and the courts greatly expanded its scope. Today, compliance with the CFA is burdensome, especially for New Jersey’s small businesses. As past lawsuits have demonstrated, the CFA is prone to abuse, incentivizes unnecessary litigation, and makes even technical violations extraordinarily costly to resolve.
“There has been a lot of discussion about so-called patent trolls recently, and a concern that plaintiffs have been able to extract unwarranted settlements with frivolous patent demand letters,” said Alida Kass, NJCJI’s chief counsel. “The sense that something must be done to combat these ‘patent trolls’ has prompted legislative efforts at the state level, although patent law remains a federal issue. These decisions from the Supreme Court give us a chance to look more closely at the issue, and might even provide a solution depending on how they are implemented by the lower courts.”
NJCJI’s teleforum will feature Prof. Adam Mossoff of George Mason University School of Law, one of the nation’s leading experts on patent law.
The New Jersey Civil Justice Institute is a bipartisan legislative advocacy organization focused on making New Jersey a more attractive place to do business. NJCJI and its members support a number of common sense legal reforms that will ensure the state’s legal system resolves disputes expeditiously and impartially, based solely upon application of the law to the facts of each case. Such a system fosters public trust and motivates professionals, sole proprietors, and businesses to provide safe and reliable products and services while ensuring that truly injured people are fully compensated for their losses.
Contact: Emily Kelchen, NJCJI Dir. of Pub. Affairs
On June 30, the New Jersey Senate voted 23-12 to pass S374. This legislation, which is being sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chair Scutari (D-22) and Sen. Beck (R-11), seeks to amend the formula for calculating attorneys’ fees to be awarded in workers compensation cases in a manner that discourages settlement and encourages parties to take cases that could be resolved outside the already overburdened judicial system to trial. NJCJI, therefore, opposes this legislation. Continue reading →