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August 7th, 2018

New Jersey Supreme Court Pumps the Brakes on ‘Junk Science’ and Adopts the Daubert Standard of Expert Testimony

At long last, New Jersey will no longer be considered an evidentiary outlier that permits plaintiff’s to bring meritless cases based on junk science. On August 1, 2018, the Supreme Court of New Jersey joined the vast majority of other states and adopted the Daubert standard for assessing the reliability of expert testimony.

The decision was highly anticipated by both trial lawyers and business advocacy groups who have spent years battling in New Jersey state courts. Up until now, New Jersey’s status as hometown to many pharmaceutical companies coupled with its lenient standard of admissibility made it a haven for plaintiffs lawyers to bring meritless product liability claims.

In . . . → Read More: New Jersey Supreme Court Pumps the Brakes on ‘Junk Science’ and Adopts the Daubert Standard of Expert Testimony

July 9th, 2018

ATRA Announces Mid-Year Addition of Twin Cities to Judicial Hellholes List

Troubling trends in Twin Cities courtrooms, unprincipled actions by Minnesota’s attorney general and multiple vetoes of common sense reforms by Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) have earned the Twin Cities of Minnesota the unenviable distinction of being named a rising jurisdiction on the Judicial Hellholes Watch List.  There is a pervasive liability-expanding view that is spreading throughout the state.

While it is only July, the first half of 2018 has been especially concerning in the “Gopher State,” and it is our hope that the Twin Cities and the state’s leaders will quickly correct their path to avoid becoming a full-blown Judicial Hellhole in December.

Minnesota voters sent a strong message . . . → Read More: ATRA Announces Mid-Year Addition of Twin Cities to Judicial Hellholes List

May 29th, 2018

Disappointing Legislative Session Comes to a Close in Missouri

The Missouri Legislature adjourned on the evening of Friday, May 19, 2018, without passing significant legal reform legislation. Lawmakers gave many reasons for their failure that ranged from “we passed enough tort reform in 2017” to “we ran out of time.” These excuses ring hollow.

Among the much-needed reforms considered were venue reform, amendments to the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA), and legislation to allow evidence of seat belt non-use.

Venue reform legislation was first introduced eight years ago and MMPA four years ago, yet lawmakers, continue to manufacture reasons for their inaction.   It is beyond dispute that cases are flocking from all over the country to St. Louis . . . → Read More: Disappointing Legislative Session Comes to a Close in Missouri

May 14th, 2018

West Virginia High Court Soundly Rejects Trial Bar’s Theory of Innovator Liability

On May 11, 2018, the West Virginia Supreme Court issued its long-awaited opinion in the case of McNair v. Johnson & Johnson.  The court joined at least 36 other courts, including six federal courts and various state courts in rejecting innovator liability, recognizing that it would disrupt the innovators’ ability to invest further in innovation which could lead to more life-saving drugs.  The court reasoned that innovator liability was inconsistent with both West Virginia tort law principles and public policy.

Innovator liability, which seeks to hold brand name drug manufacturers liable for harm caused by products manufactured by generic companies, has been pushed by trial lawyers around the country . . . → Read More: West Virginia High Court Soundly Rejects Trial Bar’s Theory of Innovator Liability

May 11th, 2018

Former NY Speaker Sheldon Silver Convicted of Federal Corruption Charges in Second Trial

As reported by the New York Times, Sheldon Silver, former Democratic speaker of the New York State Assembly, was found guilty of federal corruption charges on Friday, May 11, 2018, almost exactly a year after his initial conviction was thrown out.

In 2015, Silver was convicted of obtaining approximately $4 million in payments characterized as attorney referral fees solely through the corrupt use of his official position. The charges stemmed from the money Silver was paid by the state’s most prolific asbestos law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg, and from another Manhattan law firm specializing in real estate tax work.

The conviction was overturned after a 2016 ruling by the . . . → Read More: Former NY Speaker Sheldon Silver Convicted of Federal Corruption Charges in Second Trial

April 27th, 2018

5th Circuit Court of Appeals Overturns $502 Million J&J Verdict after Finding ‘Unequivocally Deceptive’ Conduct by Plaintiffs’ Lawyer

On Wednesday, April 25, 2018, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a half-billion dollar verdict against Johnson & Johnson and DePuy Orthopedics and ordered a new trial in a bellwether products liability case that involved DePuy’s Pinnacle hip implant devices.

Writing for the three-judge panel, U.S. Circuit Judge Jerry Smith said that U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade in Dallas, TX, erred  by allowing plaintiffs’ lawyers to present “inflammatory character evidence” about defendants.  Judge Kinkeade allowed evidence regarding past wrongdoing by the defendants, evidence that was both “unduly prejudicial and irrelevant to the jury.”

The “most problematic evidence” were allegations about bribes that Johnson & Johnson paid to “henchmen” . . . → Read More: 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Overturns $502 Million J&J Verdict after Finding ‘Unequivocally Deceptive’ Conduct by Plaintiffs’ Lawyer

April 10th, 2018

Intent on Making State a Judicial Hellhole- Maryland High Court Holds Statute of Repose Does Not Apply to Asbestos Claims

The Maryland Court of Appeals recently overturned the state appellate court’s Duffy v. CBS Corp. decision. In the case, which involved asbestos claims for wrongful death, the appellate court held that the state’s twenty-year statute of repose for improvements to real property barred an asbestos claim brought for exposure to the substance in 1970. In overturning the appellate court, the Maryland high court most notably disagreed with the appellate court on the issue of when a cause of action arises.

Maryland’s 20-year statute of repose for improvements to real property was first enacted in 1970. It required any claim relating to an improvement to real property to accrue within 20 years . . . → Read More: Intent on Making State a Judicial Hellhole- Maryland High Court Holds Statute of Repose Does Not Apply to Asbestos Claims

March 22nd, 2018

ATRA Disappointed in Massachusetts Supreme Court’s Decision to Adopt Expansive Theory of “Innovator Liability”

On March 16, 2018, in a very disappointing decision, the Massachusetts Supreme Court adopted an expansive theory of civil liability known as “innovator liability.” The state joins perennial Judicial Hellhole, California, as the only other state to adopt this dangerous theory of liability. The Alabama Supreme Court adopted “innovator liability” in 2014, but the decision was quickly overturned by the legislature.

In Rafferty v. Merck, the court held that a brand-name drug manufacturer can be sued for recklessness if it intentionally failed to update the label on its drug, knowing that there is a risk of death or injury with its use, that makers of generic versions must adopt . . . → Read More: ATRA Disappointed in Massachusetts Supreme Court’s Decision to Adopt Expansive Theory of “Innovator Liability”

March 8th, 2018

California Federal Court Finds ‘Insufficient Evidence’ to Require Warning Labels on Roundup Products

On February 26, 2018, a federal judge in the District Court for the Eastern District of California halted a Prop 65 requirement that Monsanto place warning labels on its Roundup products, deciding that there was “insufficient evidence” the popular weed killer causes cancer. . . . → Read More: California Federal Court Finds ‘Insufficient Evidence’ to Require Warning Labels on Roundup Products

March 1st, 2018

Attorney General Sessions Discusses DOJ Efforts to Combat Opioid Abuse

On Tuesday, we heard more about the ongoing efforts to combat opioid abuse and efforts to combat this important public health problem.  U.S Attorney General Jeff Sessions discussed a variety of topics, including lawsuits already underway around the country.  It is noteworthy that, during a discussion of litigation issues with journalists, General Sessions rejected the concept of retaining outside counsel who are paid on a contingent basis.

Americans can be encouraged by responsible authorities’ increasing engagement and determination to address our nation’s complex problems with opioid abuse, but these problems won’t be solved overnight. It is essential that elected policymakers, the expert regulators they appoint, the medical and scientific . . . → Read More: Attorney General Sessions Discusses DOJ Efforts to Combat Opioid Abuse

February 14th, 2018

Evidence of Trial Lawyer Corruption Comes to Light in South Carolina

On Sunday, February 11, 2018, the Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina reported new email evidence suggesting misconduct regarding a tort reform bill in 2011. The emails in question were uncovered by prosecutors and involve Rick Quinn, a former state representative who in Decemeber of 2017 plead guilty to State house corruption charges.   They also implicate the South Carolina Association for Justice, the state trial lawyers’ group, as the association sought political favors from Quinn and his political consultant father through hefty donations.

Despite these illicit donations, the association learned that then Senate president Glenn McConnell supported the bill, which would have capped punitive damage awards at $350,000.

In . . . → Read More: Evidence of Trial Lawyer Corruption Comes to Light in South Carolina

February 6th, 2018

“CREATES Act” is Nothing but a Giveaway to Well-Heeled Personal Injury Lawyers

The United States Senate is currently considering legislation that would benefit trial lawyers at the expense of consumers and innovative drug manufacturers. Proponents claim the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (“CREATES”) Act (Pat Leahy D-VT) would provide a more efficient path for generic drug manufacturers to bring their product to market.  In reality, the legislation is nothing but a giveaway to greedy personal injury lawyers and generic drug manufacturers.  . . . → Read More: “CREATES Act” is Nothing but a Giveaway to Well-Heeled Personal Injury Lawyers

January 19th, 2018

Garden State’s New Governor Faces Bellwether Choice on ‘Pay Equity’ Legislation

New Jersey, already ranked 6th among the nation’s worst Judicial Hellholes, has a newly inaugurated governor who’s wasted no time signaling his intention to expand growth-stifling civil liability still further . . . → Read More: Garden State’s New Governor Faces Bellwether Choice on ‘Pay Equity’ Legislation

January 10th, 2018

ATRA Backs Bill Reforming Missouri Law on Venue & Joinder

A representative of the American Tort Reform Association today testified before Missouri’s Senate Government Reform Committee in support of newlyMissouri Show Me Your Lawsuits State proposed legislation aiming to make the Show Me Your Lawsuits State less welcoming to out-of-state plaintiffs looking to sue out-of-state defendants over alleged out-of-state injuries in plaintiff-friendly St. Louis, one of the nation’s worst Judicial Hellholes . . . → Read More: ATRA Backs Bill Reforming Missouri Law on Venue & Joinder

December 4th, 2017

High Court’s Contempt for Lawmakers’ Authority, Lawsuit Rackets Place Florida atop Latest ‘Judicial Hellholes’ List

The American Tort Reform Foundation issued its 2017-2018 Judicial Hellholes® report today, naming courts in Florida, California, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Illinois and Louisiana among the nation’s “most unfair” in their handling of civil litigation. . . . → Read More: High Court’s Contempt for Lawmakers’ Authority, Lawsuit Rackets Place Florida atop Latest ‘Judicial Hellholes’ List

December 4th, 2017

ATRA Calls out Sen. Graham’s $500 Million Tax-Break for Trial Lawyers in Ninth Circuit

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 4, 2017 – The American Tort Reform Association today questioned South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s thus far effort to strip from tax legislation a provision that would end a significant tax break for wealthy personal injury lawyers pursuing class actions and other potentially lucrative lawsuits on a contingency-fee basis in courts within the U.S. Ninth Circuit . . . → Read More: ATRA Calls out Sen. Graham’s $500 Million Tax-Break for Trial Lawyers in Ninth Circuit

November 5th, 2017

Mark Fiore’s Cartoon for KQED Captures Madness of California Wildfires Litigation

This spot-on political cartoon says it all. But those who want more details about the wildfire of lawsuits in Northern California can read our October 30 post, “Cant Sue God or Nature, So Disaster-Chasing Personal Injury Lawyers Go after Utilities” . . . → Read More: Mark Fiore’s Cartoon for KQED Captures Madness of California Wildfires Litigation

November 2nd, 2017

Another Asbestos Bankruptcy

As deception and outright fraud persist as tactics of that element of the plaintiffs’ bar which continues to enrich itself through asbestos litigation, and as the U.S. Senate dithers over much needed legislation that would bring more transparency to asbestos claims, yet another company has been driven into bankruptcy — at the expense of employees, pensioners and creditors . . . → Read More: Another Asbestos Bankruptcy

October 31st, 2017

Cordray’s Veto Letter to Trump a ‘Last-Gasp’ Effort to Save Possible Gubernatorial Campaign

Noting that Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray has “sloppily revealed the falsity of long-running arguments against arbitration clauses in financial services contracts,” the American Tort Reform Association today called a newly reported letter from Cordray to President Trump “a desperate attempt to win back plaintiffs’ bar support for his possible gubernatorial run in Ohio” . . . → Read More: Cordray’s Veto Letter to Trump a ‘Last-Gasp’ Effort to Save Possible Gubernatorial Campaign

October 30th, 2017

Can’t Sue God or Nature, So Disaster-Chasing Personal Injury Lawyers Go after Utilities

Parasitic personal injury lawyers have drummed up class actions in the wake of both natural and manmade disasters before, but it’s tough to recall when they’ve been quicker on the opportunistic draw than they’ve been in suing utilities in the Judicial Hellholes states of California and Florida in the wake of recent wildfires and a hurricane . . . → Read More: Can’t Sue God or Nature, So Disaster-Chasing Personal Injury Lawyers Go after Utilities