John O’Brien | Legal Newsline

The New Jersey Assembly Judiciary Committee on Monday unanimously approved a bill that would change how class action lawsuits proceed.

A894 would allow a defendant in a class action lawsuit to immediately appeal a judge’s order granting class certification. Under current rules, defendants have to wait until after a judgment is entered to appeal.

The bill passed with a 7-0 vote. Five of the committee’s members are Democrats.

Assemblymen Gary Chiusano, a Republican, and John Wisniewski, a Democrat, are the bill’s sponsors. The New Jersey Lawsuit Lawsuit Reform Alliance says the bill is also good for plaintiffs who are denied class certification.

“This means that defendants who believe the court made a mistake will not have to incur the time and expense of going to trial only have to do it all over again because the class certification was erroneous from the start,” the group says.

“Plaintiffs who are denied class status can appeal that decision; today, a denial of class would usually mean the end of their case.”

The bill notes that several other states – including Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas – permit interlocutory appeals of class certifications.

A judge must rule that there is a class made up of plaintiffs who have been similarly affected by the defendant’s alleged conduct for a class action lawsuit to proceed.

“As New Jersey tries to grow its economy and combat a 9 percent unemployment rate, litigation expenses are an unneeded barrier to economic development,” NJLRA says.

“Providing a right to an immediate interlocutory appeal is a tax-free, budget-neutral initiative to free up capital for job creators.”

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