A selection of the need-to-know civil justice news for January 27-February 2.
Randy Maniloff | New Jersey Law Journal
Super Bowl LII is upon us. In fact, the pre-game show has already started. And while football is the national pastime, litigation is a close second. So what better way to deal with any lull in the action than a discussion of the substantial number of lawsuits that surround the National Football League, its players and fans.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform
Last week, a New Jersey judge “squeezed out” lawsuits in multidistrict litigation alleging that Tropicana falsely represented its orange juice as “all-natural.”
Jody Godoy | Law360
A former aide to ex-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie urged the Third Circuit on Tuesday to overturn her convictions in the Bridgegate criminal case, arguing that drivers don’t have a civil right to traffic-free travel and that prosecutors have no business second-guessing government officials.
Michael Booth | New Jersey Law Journal
A New Jersey appeals court handed Hoffmann-La Roche a minor victory on Tuesday when it affirmed a trial judge’s ruling that four plaintiffs in the Accutane litigation blew the statute of limitations in filing their product liability lawsuits.
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? Continue reading
A selection of the need-to-know civil justice news for July 15-28. 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
A selection of the need-to-know civil justice news for the week of March 4-10.
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…
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.
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.
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.
An article in the latest edition of the business newspaper NJBIZ highlights a disagreement between lawyers that has delayed an important change to our civil justice system for nearly a decade. As the article explains, plaintiffs’ attorneys have protested attempts by the New Jersey State Bar Association and other non-legal professional associations to standardize the statute of limitations in professional malpractice cases.
The State Bar and other professional organizations want to make the statute of limitations for all sorts of professional malpractice cases two years. Right now the length of time one has to sue a professional varies by industry.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys argue that shortening the statute of limitations will prevent people from seeking justice, but at the same time they also claim, somewhat incongruously, that changing the law will result in more frivolous suits being filed.
NJCJI President Marcus Rayner rebuts this argument by pointing out that proposed reforms would keep New Jersey’s generous “discovery rule” in place, which ensures injured parties have enough time to fully vet and bring cases:
The discovery rule makes it so that, if a person was not aware that he or she had a cause for a malpractice claim, the statute of limitations is not imposed until the person could have reasonably discovered it. As the bill is written, the rule still applies with the shorter statute of limitations.
“Two years is ample, considering that,” Rayner said.
Rayner also pointed out that lawyers in New Jersey are much more likely than those in other states to file a claim with a malpractice insurer. He believes the longer statute of limitations contributes to New Jersey’s excessive malpractice litigation.
The article goes on to explain the impact our state’s current law has had on malpractice insurance rates, which are much costlier here than in our neighboring states:
New York and Pennsylvania have three-year and two-year statutes of limitations, respectively, for claims based in tort. Both states apply the discovery rule as well.
When measured in terms of malpractice insurance, the impact of this is that New Jersey’s rates are anywhere from 46 to 69 percent above those in New York, depending on the size of the firm, according to the bar association. Compared with Pennsylvania, New Jersey’s insurance rates range from 17 to 40 percent higher.
In short, supporters make the case that getting this legislation enacted after an almost decade-long fight for it would make malpractice insurance more affordable for small professional service firms with already-limited resources.
NJCJI will continue to work with the State Bar Association and other professional organizations to advocate for reasonable statute of limitations. People who have worked hard to earn a professional degree should not be priced out of the market because a certain class of attorneys wants to protect their bottom line.
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.”
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.