A selection of the need-to-know civil justice news for the week of May 19-26. Continue reading
A selection of the need-to-know civil justice news for the week of May 19-26. Continue reading
Do you remember what you had for lunch yesterday? How about 2 weeks ago? How about 10 years ago? Even if you do remember, do you think you could come up with evidence – like witnesses or receipts – to back up your story, or do we just have to take your word for it?
The task of proving or defending any type of claim becomes more difficult as time passes. Witnesses become difficult to locate or pass away, records are lost or discarded, and memories fade. The ordinary “he-said-she-said” of litigation can turn into a one-sided allegation by a plaintiff that an event happened because the person says it happened, while the defendant lacks the ability to appear or muster facts that might disprove the allegation.
This is why reasonable statutes of limitations are important, and why we have joined the New Jersey State Bar Association and a broad coalition of other licensed professionals in support of A1982. The bill, which was introduced by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, would establish a uniform, two-year statute of limitations for licensed professionals.
Right now, there is no standard statute of limitations for claims against professionals. This causes confusion for both plaintiffs and defendants. Some plaintiffs have even missed their opportunity to file a malpractice suit because there was confusion over the applicable statute of limitations.
A1982 will promote justice, discourage unnecessary delay, and preclude the prosecution of stale or fraudulent claims.
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
On Thursday, May 18, the Assembly Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on A4173. The bill, which is being sponsored by Asw. Marlene Caride (D-Ridgefield), would prohibit employers and employees from agreeing by contract to arbitrate any employment disputes, all under the guise of codifying a couple of New Jersey Supreme Court rulings.
Although the bill does not mention arbitration by name, it forbids employers from even offering contracts that include many characteristics of arbitration agreements.
While this change may skate by under the dubious arbitration doctrine adopted by the New Jersey Supreme Court, it is in direct conflict with federal law and United States Supreme Court doctrine. It would clearly be barred by yesterday’s Supreme Court decision in Kindred Nursing Centers v. Clark.
Writing for a 7-1 majority, Justice Kagan noted that rules that hinge on a “primary characteristic” of an arbitration agreement, such as a trial by jury, fail to “put arbitration agreements on an equal plane with other contracts,” and therefore violate the Federal Arbitration Act, even if those rules are not limited to arbitration but also apply to “some other contracts implicating ‘fundamental’ constitutional rights.”
We are urging the Assembly Judiciary Committee to hold the bill.
On February 28, Gov. Christie delivered his eighth and final budget address to a joint session of the legislature, officially kicking off negotiations on the state’s FY 2018 budget. The legislature’s focus for the next few months will essentially be on the budget, as it must be passed by July 1.
The Governor’s plan calls for $35.5 billion in State appropriations, a 2.6% increase over the fiscal year 2017 adjusted appropriation. The judicial branch would get $9.3 million more than last year under the Governor’s plan, bringing total spending on the third branch up to $747,755,000.
Several items on NJCJI’s policy agenda are budget neutral changes that would help to improve New Jersey’s economy and could reduce future spending by the courts.
“The correlation between legal reform and economic growth is clear,” said Marcus Rayner, President of the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute. “Civil justice reform is a way to capture the money we waste on lawyer’s fees and litigation costs – without raising taxes or cutting essential services.”
A selection of the need-to-know civil justice news for the week of January 28-February 3.
Michael Symons | NJ101.5
State Sen. Diane Allen is retiring from the state Senate at the end of her current term, the latest in a line of veteran lawmakers opting not to seek re-election.
Anthony G. Attrino | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
A New Milford man has filed suit against the owners of an apartment building, claiming he suffered serious injuries after tripping over a Christmas tree left for trash collectors.
Jeannie O’Sullivan | Law360
The New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision this week to reinstate a $25 million verdict for a former Accutane user by applying the state’s statute of limitations could drive up the number of product liability suits in the Garden State from out-of-state plaintiffs hoping to avoid timeliness challenges, some attorneys say.
Emily Saul | NY Post
The widow and daughter of a Brooklyn man who killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge have filed a $10 million lawsuit against the Port Authority, saying the agency should have installed suicide-prevention barriers to stop him and the other troubled souls who have flocked almost daily to the span to kill themselves.
Steven Boranian | Drug & Device Law Blog
We thought we understood statutes of limitations and choice-of-law rules in New Jersey. Until yesterday. That was when we read the New Jersey Supreme Court’s opinion in McCarrell v. Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc., No. 076524, 2017 WL 344449 (N.J. Jan. 24, 2017), which unhinged that state’s statute of limitations and choice-of-law jurisprudence from its own precedent and placed statutes of limitations in a special class without much explanation. And the court did all of this for the stated purpose of preserving plaintiffs’ claims and not “discriminating” against an out-of-state plaintiff’s ability to sue a New Jersey company in New Jersey, after the suit would be barred in the plaintiff’s home state.
Michael J. Doherty Opinion | NJ.com
Everyone agrees that women deserve equal pay for equal work. Thankfully, both state and federal law already prohibit wage discrimination on the basis of an employee’s gender, as they rightly should.
Sara Randazzo | Wall Street Journal
During his decade on the bench, U.S. Circuit Court Judge Neil Gorsuch has penned several opinions that favor businesses over consumers in disputes about arbitration clauses, labor and employment issues, and class-action venues.
For the past two years, the American Tort Reform Foundation (ATRF) has listed New Jersey—or Atlantic County specifically—on the watchlist of their annual report examining the top nine courts or areas that have developed problematic legal reputations. But in the 2016-2017 ATRF report, New Jersey was bumped up to a full-blown judicial hellhole, no. 5 on the list.
Julia Marsh | NY Post
The big winner from a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Museum of Art over its recommended $25 admission charge is the plaintiffs’ lawyer — who is seeking a staggering $350,000 fee for handling a case that resulted in a nonmonetary settlement.
Christopher Dalton and Jinkal Pujara of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney | The Legal Intelligencer
Enacted over three decades ago, New Jersey’s Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act, N.J.S.A. 56:12-14 to -18 (TCCWNA), sat largely unnoticed by the plaintiffs bar until recently. But in the past couple of years, scores of putative class actions have been filed alleging violations of TCCWNA against a broad array of businesses such as Wal-Mart, Target, J. Crew, Select Comfort, Burlington Coat Factory, Toys “R” Us, Bed Bath & Beyond, TGI Friday’s, Johnston & Murphy, Whirlpool, and Bob’s Discount Furniture.
David Pitt | Associated Press
A Minnesota federal judge must hold hearings to determine whether a proposed settlement for about 100 million Target customers who were victims of a 2013 security breach treats all customers fairly, a federal appeals court says.
Both houses of the New Jersey Legislature held their first voting session of 2017 on Monday, January 23, and each house took up a bill the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute is opposing. Continue reading
A selection of the need-to-know civil justice news for the week of January 7-13.
Brent Johnson and Susan K. Livio | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday delivered his seventh annual State of the State address — and even he noted it was markedly different than his previous ones.
Susan K. Livio | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
With Gov. Chris Christie devoting most of his final State of the State address laying out a blueprint to tackle heroin and opioid addiction, New Jersey lawmakers, lobbyists, and mental health experts offered mostly praise for his “passionate” remarks. Some took issue, however, with the governor’s singular focus on addiction. They said they hoped he would make room in his last year in office for other issues like school funding, preserving the Medicaid program expansion under Obamacare and the underfunded state pension system.
Dustin Racioppi | The Record
A little more than week after new bail reforms took effect in New Jersey, Governor Christie signed into law a bill that adds 20 new judges to the state Superior Court system and boosts spending by $9.3 million to pay for that expansion.
Saabira Chaudhuri | Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog
A lawsuit filed Tuesday in a California federal court claims Nestlé packages some of its Raisinets in opaque movie-theater-style containers that lead customers to believe they are buying a full box, when in fact only 60% of the box contains chocolate-coated raisins.
Aiming to transition seamlessly from her current position, college senior Molly Black is holding out hope that her current internship with BrownLink Media will lead to a class-action lawsuit, sources confirmed Monday. “I spend 12-hour days here, six days a week, so I think I have a decent shot of leveraging this experience directly into a legal battle against the company,” said Black, 21, adding that working through her legally mandated lunch hour would likely further increase her chances of staying on long-term as a plaintiff in a multiyear trial.
ABC 9 WFTV
A Florida man sentenced to 10 years in prison for using a stolen identity to obtain more than $300 in products and services from Verizon Wireless is suing the company for not stopping him.
Jessica Mazzola | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
It’s shaping up to be a battle royale between members of some of the least popular professions in New Jersey. A Bergen County collections agency has filed a class action lawsuit against five lawyers who it claims are running a racketeering scheme targeting collections agencies. The lawsuit, filed in December in the U.S. District Court in Trenton, claims that the attorneys file bogus class action suits against the collections companies, knowing that the companies will be forced to settle the claims quickly for less than it would cost them to go through the judiciary process.
A selection of the need-to-know civil justice news for the week of December 31-January 6.
Kathleen Hopkins | Asbury Park Press
An explosive event in Aberdeen in 2014 has spawned the top honor this year in a contest of dubious distinction.
Charles Toutant | New Jersey Law Journal
After the Law Journal reports on a case or controversy, sometimes there are new developments that we miss out on when we move on to the next story. With 2016 coming to an end, we decided to take stock of new developments in some of those cases.
Bill Wichert | Law360
Employee-friendly initiatives, a proposal barring granting state contracts to businesses with mandatory arbitration clauses and gaming-related measures for racetracks may be on the horizon across New Jersey’s legislative and regulatory landscape in 2017, but the upcoming gubernatorial election could limit how much deal-making gets done.
Matt Arco | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Gov. Chris Christie nearing the end of his term, state lawmakers are up for re-election, and there’s a gubernatorial race. In other words, 2017 won’t be a snoozer in New Jersey.
A recent article by Law360 surveyed New Jersey’s legal community about what issues it thinks we should all keep an eye on as members of the legislature come back to Trenton to finish up the second half of their two-year session and vie for re-election. Employment laws that increase employer liability, such as paid sick leave and equal pay, were identified by many as key issues, and NJCJI’s chief counsel, Alida Kass, pointed out that several anti-arbitration measures have also been introduced.
Assembly Bill A-3064 — reads as follows: “A state agency shall not enter into a contract or agreement with a business entity that requires any person or public entity, as a condition of doing business with that business entity, to give up any right or remedy provided by the laws of this state.”
The Assembly passed the bill in October and it remains pending in the Senate.
… the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute, which opposes the legislation, has argued that deterring businesses from including such binding provisions in their contracts would mean transferring wealth from lower- and middle-class consumers to wealthy attorneys who make money litigating class actions.
“If this legislation becomes law, but is not successful at deterring businesses from including arbitration clauses in their contracts, the state of New Jersey will face significant difficulty procuring necessary products from businesses that choose lower prices and predictable contracts over state business,” according to a post on the institute’s website.
Alida Kass, chief counsel of the institute, told Law360 that arbitration is a faster and more efficient means of dispute resolution. For businesses, the value of arbitration is “the ability to ensure that you can resolve disputes on a case-by-case basis and … foreclose a class action,” Kass said.
Kass questioned why the state would “put a thumb on the scale against arbitration,” adding that the process works “especially in these sort of low-dollar consumer claims, so much more efficiently and you’re so much more likely to get a favorable outcome on an individualized basis in a timely manner as opposed to a class action that’s going to drag on for three, five years.”