New Jersey is once again one of the top “judicial hellholes” in the country, according to the annual report put out by the American Tort Reform Association. But with a new incoming administration, it’s unclear what direction the state’s litigation climate will take.
“As New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Barry T. Albin explained to defense counsel during 2016 oral arguments in an appeal of a case based wholly on junk science, out-of-state plaintiffs ‘like our evidence rules, they like our expert witness rules … ,’” the report says. “That was an understatement. Plaintiffs and their lawyers also like the Garden State’s continuing hostility to arbitration agreements, which effectively ignores clear guidance from the U.S. Supreme Court. And plaintiffs from across the country love the state high court’s willingness to apply New Jersey’s longer-running statute of limitations to product liability claims. But the state’s justices did tap the brakes on runaway, if preposterous consumer class actions this year, and they’ll soon have the chance to revisit (and strengthen) New Jersey’s lax standard for the admission of expert testimony.”
The 2016-2017 New Jersey Supreme Court term included a full slate of judges for the first time in six years, but four slots will open up over the next few years. Gov. Murphy, the report notes, hasn’t yet indicated whether he will keep with tradition to reappoint justices who have served their initial seven-year term or follow Gov. Christie’s example and replace some justices but keep others.
“The courts have the power and an opportunity to choose a new path toward a fairer, more evenhanded civil justice system,” ATRA writes. “Many hope the new governor understands this moment of opportunity, as well, and will firmly resist political pressure from the plaintiffs’ bar, which will surely lobby him to nominate, especially to the high court, more plaintiff-friendly, liability-expanding jurists like Justice Albin.”
To read the full report, visit http://www.judicialhellholes.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/judicial-hellholes-report-2017-2018.pdf.