The New Jersey Civil Justice Institute systematically reviews every decision issued by our state’s Appellate Division and the New Jersey Supreme Court to determine what impact each case might have on the state’s civil justice system. When appropriate, we participate in cases as a friend of the court, briefing issues that are broader than those addressed by the parties.

The following list is a sampling of court cases where the Institute has participated in pursuit of its mission:

Dennehy v. East Windsor Board of Educ., et al. 

The issue in this case was whether a personal injury claim against a high school coach is subject to the heightened standard of care. NJCJI argued as amicus curiae that coaches should be held to a recklessness/intentionality standard of care like any other sport participant to reduce fear of liability and promote their participation. In a narrow holding, the Court concluded that an ordinary negligence standard applied to the facts of the case and declined to adopt a heightened standard for all coaches.

NJDOL v. East Bay Drywall LLC 

This case addressed the amount of evidence required to satisfy Prong C of the “ABC test” used to determine whether a worker should be classified as an employee or independent contractor. Appearing as amicus curiae, NJCJI successfully pushed back against the State’s invitation for the New Jersey Supreme Court to expand Prong B of that test in a manner that would make it impossible to pass.

Crystal Point Condominium Association, Inc. v. Kinsale Insurance Company 

NJCJI and the Insurance Council of New Jersey appeared in this case as friends of the court, successfully arguing in support of an insurance carrier seeking to enforce a lawful arbitration clause in an insurance contract against a third-party seeking relief under that contract. The New Jersey Supreme Court reversed an Appellate Division decision that allowed the third party to avoid arbitration, which ran afoul of state and federal law by asking more of an arbitration agreement than an ordinary contract.

Fowler v. Akzo Nobel Chemicals, Inc

NJCJI and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce appeared as friends of the court in this case regarding the duty to warn workers about risks of workplace products. NJCJI argued that the totality of a manufacturer or supplier’s efforts to communicate risk and safety information, such as flyers for an employer to hang in the workplace, should be considered. However, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that a manufacturer or supplier that places insufficient warning labels on the products themselves has breached its duty to warn workers.

Haviland v. Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County, Inc. 

This case addressed application of New Jersey’s Affidavit of Merit (“AOM”) statute to malpractice claims against hospitals related to the conduct of hospital staff who are not “licensed persons” under the statute. NJCJI argued as amicus curiae that the AOM statute was applicable to the plaintiff’s claims because hospitals were enumerated as a “licensed person” under statute, and they act through their employees. However, the New Jersey Supreme Court allowed plaintiff to bring claims against the hospital for the alleged malpractice of an “unlicensed person” without obtaining an AOM since the claims against the hospital were based on vicarious liability and arose only from the actions of an “unlicensed person.”

New Jersey Civil Justice Institute v. Grewal, Civ. No. 19-17518 (Mar. 25, 2021)

NJCJI and the United States Chamber of Commerce successfully challenged an amendment to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination that subjected arbitration provisions in employment contracts to “uncommon barriers,” therefore violating the Federal Arbitration Act.

Skuse v. Pfizer, 244 N.J. 30 (2020).

NJCJI joined an alliance of trade and commerce organizations as amici curiae. They successfully persuaded the New Jersey Supreme Court that the plaintiff’s proposed test for assent for determining the validity of an arbitration clause violates the Federal Arbitration Act.

Spade v. Select Comfort Corp., 232 N.J. 504 (2018).

NJCJI’s position as amicus curiae prevailed in this case. Here, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that a consumer who received a contract that includes language prohibited under the Truth-In-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act (TCCWNA) but did not suffer any adverse consequences from the noncompliance is not an “aggrieved consumer” under the TCCWNA and therefore cannot sue under the TCCWNA.

In re Accutane Litigation, 234 N.J. 340 (2018).

Years of effort culminated in NJCJI’s position prevailing in In re Accutane Liitgation. In this case, the New Jersey Supreme Court embraced the standard announced in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharma., 509 U.S. 279 (1993), for admitting expert testimony.

Barbarino v. Paramus Ford, Appellate Division Docket No. A-000795-15-T3.

In this case, the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute asked the court to give meaning to the term “aggrieved consumer” as used in New Jersey’s Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act (TCCWNA).

Dugan v. TGI Friday’s, Inc., 231 N.J. 24 (2017).

NJCJI filed an amicus brief in the highly anticipated pair of cases, Dugan v. TGI Fridays, Inc. and Bozzi v. OSI Restaurant Partners, urging the Court to address what it means to violate a clearly established legal right, and who is an aggrieved consumer. The Court responded by placing meaningful and much-needed limits on some of the most egregious TCCWNA suits.

Kaufman v. Lumber Liquidators, __ N.J. Super. __ (App. Div. Aug. 22, 2017).

The New Jersey Civil Justice Institute partnered with the United States Chamber of Commerce to file a friend of the court brief in this Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act (TCCWNA) lawsuit.

McCarrell v. Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. and Roche Laboratories Inc., 227 N.J. 569 (2017).

The New Jersey Civil Justice Institute filed a friend of the court brief in a long-running case over the acne medicine Accutane. Instead of throwing out the case as time-barred like NJCJI suggested it do, the Court adopted a new test for determining what statute of limitations should apply in case brought by an out-of-state plaintiff.

Morgan v. Sanford Brown Inst., 225 N.J. 289 (2016).

On June 14, the New Jersey Supreme Court released its highly anticipated opinion in Morgan v. Sanford Brown Inst. The case has been closely watched because it is the first time the court has taken up an arbitration-related case since it began disfavoring arbitration during the 2013-14 court term.

Myska v. NJM, 224 N.J. 524 (2016).

The New Jersey Civil Justice Institute filed an amicus brief in the case Myska, et al. v. New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company. Just a few weeks after the filing deadline, we were notified that the New Jersey Supreme Court had dismissed the case as improvidently granted. The appellate division’s opinion, upholding dismissal of class allegations prior to discovery “when a court determines alleged claims do not properly lend themselves to class certification,” will stand.

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