A selection of the need-to-know civil justice news for the week of July 2-8.


Obscure N.J. Law Spurs Wave of Big-Money Consumer Class Actions vs. Online Sellers

Alison Frankel | Reuters

In 1980, New Jersey enacted a law to prohibit businesses from deceiving consumers about their legal rights. The awkwardly named Truth in Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act provided statutory damages of $100 to “aggrieved consumers” who, for instance, bought a ticket or signed a contract that falsely claimed customers couldn’t sue over personal injuries. The point of the law was to protect unsophisticated buyers who might be dissuaded by these deceptive notices from enforcing their legal rights.

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State’s High Court Lays Down New Law on Liability for Toxic Exposure

Tom Johnson | NJ Spotlight

In a ruling that could increase liability for exposure to toxic substances in the workplace, the state Supreme Court handed down a decision yesterday affirming that legal responsibility may extend beyond an employee’s spouse.

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Brooklyn Judge Questions Lawsuits From Disabled Suing Eateries, Wonders If They’re Attempts At Generating Legal Fees

John Marzulli | NY Daily News

A Brooklyn judge is openly questioning whether a slew of lawsuits filed by two severely disabled men — who appear to dine out as frequently as restaurant critics — are genuine demands for access to the eateries they’re suing, or a gravy train for legal fees.

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Ticking All The Boxes | The Economist

If a prize were to be awarded for the world’s clunkiest prose, the paragraphs of indecipherable text that make up “terms of use” agreements would surely win. These legal thickets are designed to protect companies from litigious online shoppers and users of web services. Some firms require agreement, as when users are asked to click a box before creating an Apple ID. Other sites explain their policies without seeking customers’ explicit consent. Few consumers read these terms, let alone understand them. Because they involve no negotiation between customer and company, firms often insert language conferring broad protections to lower their risk of liability. But in a new twist, legal disclaimers designed to limit lawsuits are now unleashing litigation.

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