Reforming New Jersey’s standards for expert testimony continues to be a top priority for the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute, and a recent ruling in the ongoing Paulsboro freight train derailment lawsuit highlights the issue.
30 of the nearly 100 plaintiffs in the Paulsboro litigation have had their cases removed to New Jersey state court after pleading a lack of complete diversity. Though diversity is the stated concern, it is not the full story, as the plaintiffs have attempted multiple times to have the all of the claims heard in state court.
A recent article in the New Jersey Law Journal by David Gialanella suggests that the actual reason state court is preferred is the state’s rules of evidence:
New Jersey state court is considered a superior forum for plaintiffs alleging injuries from toxic exposure, due to its “adversarial” standard of admissibility of scientific evidence. Judges rely on the parties to produce the evidence and testimony needed. It’s different in federal court, where judges are empowered to make their own investigations into the sufficiency of expert testimony.
If both the state and federal cases go to trial, court watchers will have a clear look at how expert testimony differs in response to the differing rules of evidence.