N.J. small businesses says court vacancies, decisions affect them

Chris Dickerson Dec. 5, 2012, 5:37pm

TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) -- New Jersey's "hostile business climate" can be attributed to recent "outrageous lawsuits" and state Supreme Court vacancies, according to a recent survey released by the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance.

The survey, conducted by the Rutgers-Eagleton Institute for the NJLRA, found that nearly 75 percent of small businesses say it is "very important" that Gov. Chris Christie and the New Jersey state Senate fill vacancies on the state Supreme Court. Some of the vacancies date back to 2010.

"The New Jersey Supreme Court is crucial to our state's economy," NJLRA Executive Director Marcus Rayner said in a press release. "New Jersey's business community is telling us loudly and clearly that vacancies on the state's highest court are a leading concern.

"As New Jersey's small businesses recover from a sluggish economy and added devastation from Hurricane Sandy, cost drivers like liability insurance and the threat of frivolous litigation only add to business concerns, which can be heavily influenced by court decisions."

Also, 75 percent of those surveyed said they believe an Ocean County lawsuit will have a major impact on the state's business climate.

In that case, the Court allowed a motorist charged with driving while intoxicated to sue a local establishment for the injuries he sustained after causing an accident. the NJLRA press release said many survey respondents plan changes to their business because of the decision.

The survey also found that those who responded "strongly support" a proposal to have specialized business courts handle court cases involving businesses. Also, 92 percent of small businesses surveyed said they want the state Legislature to focus on liability reform.

New Jersey-based small businesses with fewer than 50 employees were surveyed. For complete results of the survey, visit www.njlra.org.

The NJLRA calls itself a statewide, bipartisan group of businesses, individuals and organizations committed to improving the Garden State's civil justice system by advocating for legal reforms in the Legislature and in the courts.

"NJLRA believes a balanced civil justice system is critical to ensuring fair and open courts, maintaining and attracting jobs and fostering economic growth in New Jersey," the group said. "NJLRA is the only organization in New Jersey dedicated exclusively to civil justice reform."

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