The New Jersey Supreme Court has released its opinion in a long-running lawsuit over the acne medicine Accutane. Instead of throwing out the case as time-barred like NJCJI suggested it do, the Court adopted a new test for determining what statute of limitations should apply in case brought by an out-of-state plaintiff.
“It’s disappointing the Court decided to go in this direction,” said NJCJI chief counsel Alida Kass. “It is very likely that plaintiffs whose claims are time-barred in other states will now try to bring their lawsuits here. As the opinion’s author noted during oral arguments, plaintiffs are attracted to our courts because they like our evidence rules and our expert witness rules, so I guess we should now add our statute of limitations to that list. It really distorts the policy choices that have been made by the New Jersey legislature.”
Click here to read the court’s full opinion in McCarrell v. Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. and Roche Laboratories Inc.
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.
Sexual predators who abuse children are a scourge on society. They should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. It is, however, equally wrong to treat tragedy that is childhood sexual abuse as a smoke screen for weakening our legal system. Continue reading
On August 11, the Appellate Division issued an important ruling in the ongoing litigation over Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd.’s acne medication Accutane. The decision by appellate judges Sabatino, Simonelli, and Leone overturns a $25 million+ verdict from a 2010 jury trial, and brings to a close a case that has been bogging down the court system for over a decade. It also sends a clear message that some choice of law questions are no longer open for debate. Continue reading
This morning the Appellate Division issued an important ruling in the ongoing litigation over Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd.’s acne medication Accutane. The ruling brings to a close a case that has been bogging down the court system for over a decade, and sends a clear message that some choice of law questions are no longer open for debate. 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.
A New Jersey appellate court has issued an opinion on three cases in the ongoing Accutane litigation in Atlantic County. NJCJI had expressed concerns over fairness of the lower court’s proceedings, and readers may also recall that Roche had sought the recusal of the trial judge in question, Judge Higbee, who recently was elevated to the appellate court. This decision reverses Judge Higbee on several key points.
In short, defendant Roche prevailed in all three cases included in this consolidated decision. Two jury verdicts for defendant were upheld, with the court finding ample evidence to support the jury’s conclusions. In the third and most interesting case, the court overturned a $2.1 million jury verdict and found for the defendant as a matter of law, on both causation and statute of limitations grounds. Continue reading
Child sexual predators exist everywhere. They harm children from all demographics and shatter families from all socio-economic statuses. It often takes years for victims to come forward and bring their accusers to justice. Like most reasonable people, we understand this reality. And that is why a criminal statute of limitations does not exist in New Jersey, and is not in question.
What today’s legislation addresses is the ability of victims to sue for damages. The civil statute of limitations is a time limit on cases brought by accusers seeking monetary damages from sex abuses or their employers for the abuses they have suffered. The statute of limitations on these efforts is currently two years from the time a person realizes that they have been injured by sexual abuse, not from the act itself. Advocates maintain that this window is not long enough.
Senator Paul Sarlo and Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald agree. They have introduced legislation known as the Child Protection Act of 2012, which would bring the civil statute of limitations to 10 years from the time a victim realizes they have been abused instead of the 2 years currently on the books in New Jersey. And it would hold their employers and supervisors accountable from this point forward.
Unfortunately, that is not the legislation that the Senate will be voting on today. Today’s legislation, S-1651, would completely eliminate the civil statute of limitations in all sex abuse cases. And it would be applied retroactively, leaving all current board members and officials vulnerable to claims which may or may not have occurred decades ago. And unlike criminal trials, the burden of proof is much lower in civil cases, so mounting any sort of defense is likely in vain. The most damning cases would undoubtedly be the ones involving public schools and municipalities, because ultimately, it’s the taxpayer’s dime that will be used to settle claims.
Today’s legislation is well-intentioned. But it takes a step beyond what is rational under the American judicial system. Child sex abuse victims experience society at its worst. They shouldn’t have to carry the financial burdens of therapy as they move forward; it is the responsibility of the perpetrator and those who have failed the child. But the legislation being considered today swings too far in the opposite direction. New Jersey’s honest charities, volunteers, and taxpayers will be left exposed to a plethora of indefinite, unintended consequences and opportunities for the dishonest to take advantage of the law’s newly-expanded liabilities. And it’s an expense all of us will bear.
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, NJCJI 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. NJCJI and other business advocates have voiced concerns about both S-1651 and S-2281. [Learn more about NJLRA’s position].