A selection of the need-to-know civil justice news for the week of September 10-16.
Nicholas Huba | Press of Atlantic City
A state court gave Harrah’s Atlantic City a belated birthday present. A three-judge state Appellate Division panel ordered the vacating of more than $500,000 in legal fees associated with a case in which a Middlesex County women accused Harrah’s Atlantic City of violating state law by failing to honor a $15 birthday coupon.
This year brought a wave of class action complaints alleging that national retailers are violating the New Jersey Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act (TCCWNA), N.J.S.A. §§ 56:12-14 et seq., by including certain provisions in their online terms and other consumer-facing notices and agreements. Although TCCWNA was adopted over 30 years ago, it recently has become the focus of class action plaintiffs alleging a broad interpretation of the consumer protection statute, including that statutory damages may be recovered in the absence of actual loss or injury. The filings target companies of all sizes and industries, including social media platforms that do not consider themselves traditional “retailers.” Defending such claims can be an expensive proposition.
Daniel Fisher | Forbes
In the mid-1990s, Remington Arms settled a class action lawsuit over allegedly defective shotgun barrels, issuing $17.5 million in checks to some 477,000 owners of more than 820,000 12-gauge shotguns. Last year the company, now owned by Cerberus Capital Management and called Remington Outdoor, settled a similar class action over 7.5 million allegedly defective bolt-action rifles which, according to a lengthy CNBC documentary, can fire accidentally even with the safety on. Remington denied liability but offered a free fix to anyone who responded to the settlement. After several months the grand total of participants was 2,327, leading U.S. District Judge Ortrie D. Smith, who is overseeing the litigation, to erupt: “The Court cannot conceive that an owner of an allegedly defective firearm would not seek the remedy being provided pursuant to this Settlement Agreement.”
Charles Toutant | New Jersey Law Journal
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has rejected a serial litigator’s attempt to defeat federal jurisdiction in a class action suit against a company selling fish oil capsules. The appeals court affirmed dismissal of a suit by Englewood lawyer Harold Hoffman, who has brought nearly 100 consumer fraud actions as a pro se litigant in the past four years.
Mallory Ortberg (Dear Prudence) | Slate
I was driving and hit a 5-year-old child. I was not charged, as there was no speed or alcohol involved—he ran out onto the road while his mother was momentarily distracted. He was left with severe and permanent disabilities. I was a couple of days away from starting a new job but couldn’t work because I was in so much shock. I get panic attacks at the thought of driving and it’s difficult to even be around children. I was diagnosed with PTSD, and I know I need help, but I have no insurance and can’t afford it. I was told I need to sue the parents of the child to get a payout from their insurance, which would then pay for my treatment. On one hand, I desperately want some kind of psychological treatment. But the thought of suing the parents at the worst time of their life—that seems like pure evil. What would you do in my situation?