A selection of the need-to-know civil justice news for the week of April 4-10.


ELEC Data Shows NJ Law Firm Donations, Public Contracts

Mary Pat Gallagher | New Jersey Law Journal

The five New Jersey law firm donors that received the most money in government contracts in 2014 contributed almost $450,000 to in-state political campaigns last year and received public contracts totaling more than $42 million during that time, according to information provided by the state’s campaign finance watchdog agency, the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).

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New York’s Asbestos Court Mulls Changes After Sheldon Silver Scandal

Daniel Fisher | Forbes

New York’s special court system for hearing asbestos cases will be on trial Thursday as defense lawyers make their case for reforms in the wake of former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s indictment on allegations he accepted millions of dollars in kickbacks from one of the most prominent asbestos plaintiff firms in the state.

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How the Tort Juggernaut Trolls for Clients

Tiger Joyce | Wall Street Journal (Opinion)

It has been more than 15 years since former Supreme Court Justice David Souter referred to asbestos litigation as an “elephantine mass,” the most massive of mass torts in America for decades. Though the U.S. epidemiological peak for mesothelioma—the incurable cancer caused by significant inhalation of asbestos fibers—came and went in the early 1990s, roughly 2,000-3,000 new claims for compensation are filed each year.

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Heavily Backlogged Federal Courts Show Need to Protect Arbitration

U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform

The Wall Street Journal reports that civil lawsuits are piling up in the nation’s federal courts, causing years-long delays in cases involving civil rights, personal injury, and Social Security benefits, among others.

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The Third Circuit Last Year Issued the Fewest Published Opinions of Any Circuit, Again

Matthew Stiegler | CA3blog

The new AOC statistics are out. They’re a trove for appeals-nerds like me, and I’ll probably have a couple posts about them. First up: a look at the stats for published and unpublished decisions. The big news? In 2014, for the second year in a row, no circuit issued fewer published opinions than the Third Circuit.

Full Story.


Which Federal Trial Court Is ‘Most Productive?’

Joe Palazzolo | Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the front office of the federal judiciary, has released is annual data on the functioning of the courts, and others have done the legwork to figure out which of the 94 federal trial courts cut through its caseload most efficiently in the fiscal year that ended in September 2014.

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NJ’s Judicial Hostility To Arbitration Means Businesses Need to Adapt

Brian A. Berkley and Jeffrey A. Carr | New Jersey Law Journal (Opinion)

Recently, when students of Rutgers’ arbitration law class were asked whether the New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision in Atalese v. United States Legal Services Group, which struck an arbitration clause in a consumer agreement for failing to give a consumer proper notice she was waiving her right to court, would survive U.S. Supreme Court scrutiny, there was consensus: there was a good chance it would not. The class thought that the decision may represent the kind of state court judicial hostility toward arbitration that the U.S. Supreme Court sought to stamp out under its Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) precedent. It looks like others may agree, as the opinion has been petitioned for U.S. Supreme Court review and several amici curiae have joined in support.

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