After Fixing the Budget, Tort Reform in New Jersey

By October 12, 2010Briefly Legal

The trial lawyer lobby occasionally tries to sell the argument that business owners are not that troubled by the burdens and costs of being sued. We’ll concede that there may be a difference in attitude between employers who have been sued versus those who have not been…yet. Small businesses are keenly aware of the consequences of being sued.

Indeed, the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance last week released results of a survey of small business owners on the state’s legal climate. Monmouth University Polling Institute interviewed owners and senior operators of small businesses (2 – 50 employees) in July 2010. Results were released at a news conference with NJLRA’s executive director,  Marcus Rayner, and Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-Monmouth). Highlights:

  • Most (70%) of New Jersey’s small business owners agree that the state’s liability laws make it less attractive than other states for business.
  • Nearly two-thirds (64%) say that lawsuits are a problem for New Jersey’s overall business climate.
  • One-in-five small businesses have had a lawsuit filed against them by a client or customer in the past five years.  One-in-three think it is more likely than not that they will be sued in the next five years.
  • The majority of New Jersey’s small business owners (55%) say that reforming our liability laws would improve our business climate. 
  • Among the small business owners who were sued in the past five years, many were forced to make changes to their business.
  • Liability insurance, which is necessary for most businesses, increased for at least 55% of New Jerseyís small businesses in the past five years.

NJLRA’s news release is available here, and you can download the full report here. NJBiz covered the release, “Study: Small business wants tort reform.

Reform-minded Gov. Chris Christie has devoted most of his energies to solving the state’s budget crisis, obviously a priority. But he included tort reform as a plank for economic growth in his 2009 campaign platform, and he’s willing to shake up the state’s legal system. Fix the budget, then fix New Jersey’s legal system, governor!

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