New Jersey can make real strides in making its civil justice system fairer and more predictable and efficient – but only if policymakers commit to reform. Reform efforts send an important message to businesses that the state is serious about encouraging innovation, capital investment, and economic growth. These conditions lead to higher job creation rates, lower unemployment, and increased revenue collections, which benefit all New Jerseyans. The following issues are critical to civil justice reform in New Jersey:
Study after study demonstrates that alternative forms of dispute resolution, like private arbitration, are fairer, faster, and cheaper. Despite this fact, plaintiffs’ lawyers continually attack arbitration in New Jersey’s courts and legislature, seeking to keep all lawsuits in front of our overburdened courts. The reason for these attacks is simple: Lengthy, unpredictable court battles allow plaintiffs’ lawyers to coerce outsized settlements from businesses and the lawyers keep a big chunk of those settlements as their fee.
Click here to learn more about protecting arbitration as a preferred dispute resolution option.
Often, jury verdicts are exorbitant and disconnected from actual harm. A losing party may be well within their right to appeal a verdict, but courts still require losing parties to pay an appeal bond – sometimes in the millions of dollars – to preserve that right. Some states limit appeal bonds, but New Jersey does not. Without a cap, businesses are forced to secure massive financing within a few weeks, putting them in the position of either mortgaging their future or declaring bankruptcy. This makes New Jersey businesses less competitive and hurts the state’s economy.
Click here to learn more about protecting New Jersey’s jobs by capping appeal bonds.
Billions of dollars are readily available for most people injured by products containing asbestos. An injured person need only file a claim with a bankruptcy trust to quickly receive compensation. But plaintiffs’ lawyers often double dip by first filing lawsuits against companies that made products containing asbestos decades ago, and once they get a payout from that company, they then file separate claims against the trust. By doing so, they are deceiving either the courts or the trust. In addition to being fraudulent, this conduct hurts New Jersey’s economy by exposing its businesses to needless litigation.
Click here to learn more about asbestos settlement fund fraud.
Class actions were originally intended to consolidate many small and similar lawsuits into one large lawsuit for purposes of speeding up their resolution. However, plaintiffs’ lawyers routinely abuse this mechanism to generate leverage to force enormous settlements regardless of whether the underlying claim has merit or actual harm has occurred. In the end, the plaintiffs often receive measly awards in the tens of dollars, while the plaintiffs’ lawyers earn massive fees.
New Jersey’s consumer protection laws should be doing what their name suggests – protecting consumers. But New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act (“NJCFA”) allows litigation even when there is no actual fraud. Instead, plaintiffs’ lawyers use the NJCFA to file “gotcha” lawsuits over simple mistakes by businesses and collect big fees for themselves. For everyone else, this results in a higher cost of doing business in the state and higher prices for consumer goods and services.
Click here to learn more about protecting consumers – and not lining plaintiffs’ lawyers’ pockets.
The Internet is the newest hunting ground for plaintiffs’ lawyers. In addition to adapting to rapid technological changes, businesses must also navigate a new world of laws governing use of consumer data. Some of these laws allow plaintiffs’ lawyers to file lawsuits, even if no harm came to any consumers. NJCJI works with state legislators to ensure that New Jersey’s data and privacy laws protect New Jerseyans while preserving innovation and capital investment in our state.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys try to prop up many of their cases with junk science. In our courts, there has been a good deal of confusion about how to separate real science from fake science. This leaves jurors with the impossible task of discerning experts from quacks. In many cases, the outcome of a lawsuit depends on expert testimony, and allowing junk science to reach the jury can lead directly to the wrong result.
Click here to learn more about keeping junk science out of our courtrooms.
When you go to the doctor, you want your doctor to help you make decisions based on medicine. But because of frivolous medical malpractice claims, your doctor may be thinking more about the risk of being sued than the medical decision in front of them. For you, the patient, the rising cost of healthcare in this state is the result of such lawsuits distracting your doctor from the task of providing quality care.
Click here to learn more about keeping litigation out of medicine.
There is a new movement afoot to expand an antiquated legal doctrine called “public nuisance” so that the simple sale of everyday products can generate unlimited legal liability for New Jersey’s business community for all of society’s problems. If successful, this movement has the potential to severely disrupt New Jersey’s economy.
Click here to learn how to fight legislation that imposes unlimited liability on businesses
The task of proving or defending any type of civil case becomes more difficult as time passes. Witnesses become difficult to locate or pass away, records are lost or discarded, and memories fade. These realities are why we have statutes of limitations. But to be effective, statutes of limitations must be firm deadlines, not amorphous suggestions.
Click here to learn more about common-sense time limits on stale lawsuits.
A plaintiff and their lawyer are not the only ones who may have a financial interest in the outcome of a lawsuit. Increasingly, hedge funds and other financiers invest in lawsuits in exchange for a percentage of any settlement or judgment. Without disclosure requirements and other safeguards, these funders may silently dictate the pace and direction of lawsuits, leading to extended litigation based only on greed.
The rapid rise of the gig economy shows that many workers value independence in deciding when, where, and how they work. Despite this, New Jersey lawmakers and regulators are seeking to disrupt independent contractor relationships and classify all workers as employees to raise revenue for state benefit funds and increase union membership. Also, plaintiffs’ lawyers are exploiting this policy shift to support massive class action lawsuits against companies based on alleged worker misclassification. As a result of this, workers will end up stuck in the same old working arrangements that don’t fit their individual needs and goals, and our economy will suffer.
Click here to learn more about protecting workers’ ability to dictate when, where, and how they work.
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New Jersey Civil Justice Institute
63 Coryell Street, Unit B,
Lambertville, NJ 08530