For the past two years, the American Tort Reform Foundation (ATRF) has listed New Jersey—or Atlantic County specifically—on the watchlist of their annual report examining the top nine courts or areas that have developed problematic legal reputations. But in the 2016-2017 ATRF report, New Jersey was bumped up to a full-blown judicial hellhole, no. 5 on the list.
The report states: “The Garden State’s high court has declared war on the use of arbitration as an alternative to lawsuits and issued liability-expanding rulings. While Atlantic County is no longer the draw it once was for product liability claims, the state’s lax standard for expert testimony still leads plaintiffs’ lawyers to bring many drug and medical device cases there on behalf of people from other states. In addition, the state’s vague and complicated consumer protection laws have set off a feeding frenzy for plaintiffs’ lawyers.”
ATRF ended its examination of New Jersey on a positive note, however. While the state’s Supreme Court has no empty seats, vacancies on lower courts are being filled. The report speculated that a full bench statewide could result in stability, taking pressure off the high court and giving those justices time to assess the overall health of the state’s judicial system.
“The New Jersey Supreme Court has the power and the political capital to right the state’s precariously listing ship of civil litigation,” the report said. “It only needs the will to do so.”
Visit http://www.judicialhellholes.org/2016-2017/new-jersey/ to read the full ATRF report on New Jersey.