New Jersey’s civil justice system has been ranked one of the most costly in the nation and it may get even worse, according to three recently released independent reports from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) and the American Tort Reform Foundation (ATRF)

Both businesses and consumers should be deeply concerned by New Jersey’s terrible rankings because we are all footing the bill for a civil justice system that invites questionable and abusive litigation. At a time when inflation is at record levels, the costs of the state’s lawsuit-friendly policies are piling on and making everything even more expensive, from everyday products to insurance costs. NJCJI will highlight the findings of these reports in its advocacy on behalf of the business community.

 Highlights of these three reports follow:

 1.   ATRF Judicial Hellholes 2022

 In ATRF’s annual Judicial Hellholes® report released this week, New Jersey reappears on the Judicial Hellhole Watch List due to a variety of conditions appearing across all three branches of government that could lead to a “perfect storm” of litigation abuse across the state.

According to the report: “The state’s civil justice system faces a triple threat – the plaintiffs’ bar now wields unprecedented power and influence in New Jersey’s Legislature because the new Senate President is a practicing plaintiffs’ attorney. New Jersey’s recently reelected governor is a progressive stalwart who has shown no interest in civil justice reform priorities and the new makeup of the New Jersey Supreme Court may result in a shift toward activism and expansion of liability.”

ATRF lists multiple legislative initiatives by Senate President Nick Scutari that have the potential for lawsuit abuse. The ATRF report also cites the Murphy Administration’s active pursuit of legislation and litigation seeking to transform public nuisance law as a big concern for the state’s business community.

2.   The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform Tort Costs in America: An Empirical Analysis of Costs and Compensation of the U.S. Tort System

This new report from ILR issued last month estimates every state’s tort cost as a percentage of state gross domestic product and on a per-household basis. The report found the costs and compensation paid in the U.S. tort system totaled $443 billion—or 2.1% of national gross domestic product and $3,621 per household—in 2020. New Jersey was ranked the fourth most expensive state tort system in the nation, with an average cost of $5,059 per household.

3.   U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform: Nuclear Verdicts: Trends, Causes, and Solutions

Another report from ILR found that the size and frequency of massive jury verdicts—known as “nuclear verdicts” and generally described as being worth $10 million or more—are increasing nationwide. New Jersey ranks 8th on the list of highest nuclear verdicts in the nation, which comes at the expense of every business, consumer, and family in the form of higher prices and insurance costs.