A handful of states, including New Jersey, have been thumbing their nose at the United States Supreme Court’s rulings on arbitration. Last month, the Court once again said this needs to stop. Will the New Jersey Courts listen? Or are they waiting to be called out by the High Court?
Archis A. Parasharami of Mayer Brown, one of the nation’s leading experts on arbitration law, answered these questions and more during the latest NJCJI Policy Teleforum.
This is an edited recording of a call that took place on May 23, 2017. If you would like to participate in future calls as they happen, and receive CLE credit for them if you are an attorney, please contact NJCJI President Marcus Rayner.
Earlier this week, the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling in a closely watched case concerning state based mass actions. The decision, which shuts down certain forms of forum shopping, might lead to more lawsuits being filed in New Jersey state courts because of our state’s plaintiff-friendly laws and the fact that many major businesses call New Jersey home. Continue reading
Last week, the New Jersey State Bar Association held its annual convention in Atlantic City. Over 2,500 judges, lawyers, law clerks, and law students headed down the shore in search of CLEs and the scoop on emerging legal issues. In the following post, NJCJI’s Emily Kelchen reveals her insights on issues of interest to the civil justice community that were discussed at the convention. Continue reading
A recent article in the Star Ledger is getting quite a bit of attention for revealing something the Civil Justice Institute has known for quite some time: we all pay for excessive litigation. The article, which takes an in-depth look at lawsuits filed by public workers, found that over $100 million of taxpayer money is spent on such suits each year. Continue reading
We have seen an explosion in the number of Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act (TCCWNA) lawsuits and demand letters over the past couple of years. While many businesses settle such suits so they can focus on the business of doing business rather than spending a bunch of money on litigation, a few intrepid companies have fought the claims brought against them. Continue reading
NJCJI President, Marcus Rayner, has been asked to speak about the rising tide of food label lawsuits at NJBIZ’s upcoming Food BizNJ event.
Lawsuits about food and beverages gain notoriety because they are viewed by the public as a shocking or humorous anomaly. But as the number of these suits grows, the novelty wears off. People begin to view these sorts of lawsuits as legitimate, and the prediction that food is the next tobacco (aka the next big payday for trial attorneys) begins to sound less far-fetched.
What is driving the uptick in food-related lawsuits?
Between 2015 and 2016, there were 425 active food class-action suits in federal courts, while in 2008 there were only about 20. This data comes from a report by the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform. The report suggests that the increase in lawsuits is due to the fact that food labels, advertising, and packaging make suing easy, and every person in the world is a potential class member since we all have to eat and drink to survive.
We see a large number of food lawsuits filed in New Jersey because our state’s legal system welcomes them. Plaintiffs like our evidence rules and our expert witness rules, and our state’s consumer protection laws are some of the strongest in the nation.
Having strong consumer protection laws is a good thing. Having strong consumer protection laws that are virtually impossible to comply with, and that generously reward attorneys for bringing lawsuits under them is a recipe for disaster. Even New Jersey’s Law Revision Commission, which has been tasked with cleaning up the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, has noted that in its current form, the CFA is “infirm” and “one of the state’s most complicated statutes.”
These “Consumer” Lawsuits End Up Hurting Consumers
No matter how ridiculous the subject of a food-based consumer lawsuit is, defending against it is always costly. Those costs are passed along to consumers in the form of higher retail prices. So, ironically enough, excessive litigation in the name of consumer protection actually ends up hurting consumers.
Despite this, the number of food-based CFA lawsuits filed in New Jersey remains high thanks to the incentive structure set up in the Act’s remedy provisions. The law requires judges to award treble damages (triple damages in non-lawyer speak) and attorneys’ fees in all CFA cases. There are few other types of lawsuits that allow attorneys to reap such bountiful rewards.
It Is Time For Common Sense Reform
Unfortunately, the nature of the food industry – highly regulated and dependent on advertising – makes it an easy target. That’s why the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute is asking for some common sense reform to New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act and other state laws and court rules that make our state a magnet for food lawsuits.
NJCJI has filed amicus briefs in several Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act (TCCWNA) lawsuits, and has been following other cases quite closely. Below is an update on the cases we’re involved with and info on some other notable cases. Continue reading
Red Bull does not actually give you wings. Some of Subway’s famous footlongs do not measure exactly twelve inches. Chobani Greek yogurt is made in the United States, not Greece. None of these statements are shocking, but each of them has recently been the subject of well-publicized lawsuits filed on behalf of consumers. Continue reading
A selection of the need-to-know civil justice news for the week of February 25-March 3.
Samantha Marcus | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
$35.6 billion, total revenues
$35.5 billion, total proposed spending
$493 million, reserves
$9.2 billion, school aid
$2.5 billion, public pensions
$125 million, health care cuts
$25 million, charity care
John Council | Texas Lawyer
When East Texas plaintiff lawyer Jim Parsons learned that a trucking company was willing to pay $1.6 million to end his client’s tort case, he got the defendants to agree to something else that’s exceedingly rare in modern civil litigation: a sincere personal apology. Apologies are unusual in tort cases for a variety reasons, chief among them that defendants are loath to offer anything more than broad condolences to a plaintiff that has sued them for fear of admitting liability. But in the right set of circumstances, an apology is all it takes for a defendant to end a civil dispute amicably.
Michelle Yeary | Drug & Device Law Blog
We’ve talked a fair amount about forum shopping on this blog. Forum shopping is largely in the control of plaintiffs’ counsel because they, within reason, get to choose where to file their clients’ lawsuits… But what about when plaintiff’s choice of forum doesn’t turn out like he/she hoped? Should they get a do-over? A mulligan? A second chance? We don’t think so and neither did the court in Zarilli v. Johnson & Johnson…
Matthew P. Horvitz and Timothy H. Watkins | Retail Law Advisor Blog
The proliferation of accessibility lawsuits under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has not abated. It is well-documented that ADA-related litigation increased by 37% from 2015 to 2016, which is symptomatic of long-term trends. Growth is fueled in part by litigants’ increased focus on internet-based technologies, including websites and mobile applications. This trend is unlikely to wane in the near future, especially given the continued expansion in e-commerce and internet-enabled applications that retailers, hospitality providers, and other commercial enterprises rely on for advertising, customer engagement, and sales growth.
Eric Strauss | NJBIZ
Thomas Scrivo, Gov. Chris Christie’s chief counsel, will be the new chairman of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, Christie announced Thursday. Scrivo is also stepping down as the governor’s chief counsel to return to private practice.
Hugh Son | Bloomberg
At JPMorgan Chase & Co., a learning machine is parsing financial deals that once kept legal teams busy for thousands of hours. The program, called COIN, for Contract Intelligence, does the mind-numbing job of interpreting commercial-loan agreements that, until the project went online in June, consumed 360,000 hours of work each year by lawyers and loan officers. The software reviews documents in seconds, is less error-prone and never asks for vacation.