Right now there are five common sense legal reform bills with bipartisan sponsorship under consideration in the legislature. Several of these bills have been languishing in committee for years without action. Meanwhile, all of us are shouldering the burden of New Jersey’s excessively expensive and inefficient tort liability system through higher prices, lower wages, decreased returns on investments in capital and land, restricted access to health care, and less innovation. It is time for the legislature get serious about legal reform so the citizens and businesses of this state can get some relief.
Sponsors: O’Donnell (D-31), Webber (R-26)/Oroho (R-24), Van Drew (D-1)
Summary: Over the years, the law has been amended by the legislature, and expanded by the courts, into an enormous and unwieldy piece of legislation. Compliance is difficult, especially for New Jersey’s small businesses. It is prone to abuse, incentivizes unnecessary litigation, and makes even technical violations extraordinarily costly to resolve. This bill would make some basic, technical changes to NJ’s Consumer Fraud Act that will make the law less onerous while still providing strong protections to consumers.
Status: Referred to Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee, 7.11.14/Referred to Senate Commerce Committee, 6.30.14.
Sponsors: Wisniewski (D-19)/Barnes III (D-18)
Summary: Gives litigants in class action cases the right to immediately appeal class certification decisions. The entire federal system and a handful of states, including Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania, already allow this.
Status: Referred to Assembly Judiciary Committee, 2.25.14/Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee, 3.27.14.
A1254– Statute of Limitations for Professionals
Sponsors: Prieto (D-32), Wimberly (D-35) & Diegnan (D-18)
Summary: Requires certain civil actions against certain licensed persons to be brought within two years.
Status: Referred to Assembly Judiciary Committee, 1.16.14.
Sponsors: Schaer (D-36), McKeon (D-27) & Wimberly (D-35)/Rice (D-28)
Summary: In order to appeal a verdict against them most defendants in New Jersey are required by law to post the entire amount awarded as a bond before they may appeal the decision against them. Judges can also require that additional bond money be posted to secure attorneys’ fees and court costs. This bill would cap the amount that defendants have to post as bond at $50 million.
Status: Referred to Assembly Judiciary Committee, 1.16.14/Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee, 5.5.14.
A3581 – Federal Preemption
Sponsor: Carroll (R-25)
Summary: This bill establishes immunity from liability for a manufacturer or seller for harm caused by a failure to warn, where a warning or instruction given in connection with a drug, device, food, or food additive has been approved or prescribed by the federal Food and Drug Administration.
Status: Referred to Assembly Judiciary Committee, 9.11.14.
We have known for years that a state’s legal climate has a dramatic impact on its economic development. If New Jersey wants to completely and quickly escape the recession, legal reform must become a reality. Passing these 5 bills would go a long way toward putting New Jersey back on the path to prosperity.
Click here to contact your legislators and tell them that common sense legal reform should be one of their top priorities.