John O’Brien • Legal Newsline

Legislation pending in New Jersey would limit the amount a losing party would have to post as a bond for its appeal to $50 million.

The cap is already in place for tobacco companies, but the legislation would allow it to apply to all civil cases. The bill, introduced in March, was recently released by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

The bill is sponsored by Assemblymen Gary Schaer and John McKeon. Assemblywoman Amy Handlin is a co-sponsor.

Twenty-seven states have passed appeals bond caps, and 11 of the remaining states have caps for tobacco companies.

“Businesses which cannot obtain the financing they need to post a bond for appeal are denied this right by default or must face bankruptcy,” the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance says.

“Even with a strong case warranting appellate review, the cost of proceeding with litigation is unattainable for many defendants, increasing pressure to settle frivolous claims and risking damage to an entity’s reputation.”

New Jersey’s reputation recently took a hit when a Pacific Research Institute study ranked the state’s as the most worrisome tort system. The study was based on plaintiff awards and settlements, the amount of lawsuits, tort rules and reforms, venue reforms and judicial-selection reforms.

New Jersey also popped up on the American Tort Reform Foundation’s Judicial Hellholes report late last year. The report singled out Atlantic County.