An unusually strong New Jersey law, the Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Notice and Warranty Act (“TCCWNA”), “prohibits consumer documents from containing provisions that violate clearly established rights or responsibilities,” whether or not the business that distributed the document then acts on the provision. Businesses that imprudently employ standard-form contracts available from office-supply stores, for example, may violate the law if the language deviates (as it often will) from more pro-consumer New Jersey doctrines. The law carries a $100 per-infraction fee that can be multiplied to large numbers applied across a range of transactions. A cottage industry of entrepreneurial suit-filing has grown up under the statute but now, in the case of Spade v. Select Comfort, a unanimous New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that only consumers who have suffered actual damage can sue under the law, though damages can be non-monetary. The decision is likely to cut back on entrepreneurial uses of the law and in particular class actions where no evidence can be shown that a document’s improper wording harmed many members of a putative class. [Ryan P. Phair and Emily K. Bolles (Hunton & Williams), Lexology; earlier here, here, and related]
When New Jersey repealed its requirement for periodic auto safety inspections, there was no statistically meaningful rise in the frequency of accidents due to car failure, or to road fatalities whether linked to car failures or not. Alex Tabarrok: “It’s time to ditch the annual safety inspection and either move to no inspection system at all or like Maryland move to a system that requires safety inspections only at transfer. I’m not convinced that is necessary either, since at transfer is precisely when the buyer will run an inspection anyway, but at least that system would reduce the number of inspections significantly.” [Marginal Revolution, New York Post editorial; Alex Hoagland and Trevor Woolley]
“Politicians Want to Start a Bank. What Could Go Wrong?” is the title of my new Wall Street Journal op-ed about New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s very bad idea.
The article will be paywalled for many, but you can read some of the journalistic coverage of the bank issue: Matt Friedman, Politico, Samantha Marcus/NJ Advance Media. Some articles I cite in my piece along with relevant links/research: The Economist on German Landesbanken, Aaron Fernando, The Progressive (citing German example, and noting current campaigns for city-owned banks in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and other cities); Erica Jedynak letter, MyCentralJersey.com (“A 2011 report based on research provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and other state agencies recommended the Massachusetts legislature not pursue the idea”).
Research on public-owned banks across the world suggests [that lending is politicized]. A 2002 paper from a Northwestern University economist found that areas with stronger political parties get lower interest rates from public banks. Political interference is likely the reason that public banks have been found to underperform compared to private banks in underdeveloped countries, according to a 2012 paper written by Taiwanese researchers.
On corruption rankings, Transparency.org on Germany; Five Thirty-Eight and Harvard Safra Ethics Center on U.S. states. On New Jersey’s outstandingly bad record for corruption: Olivia Nuzzi, Daily Beast and Philip Bump, Washington Post.
— Virus X (@robertnlee) January 3, 2018
Until this week, Oregon and New Jersey were the only two states to ban self-serve gas stations. Oregon just ended its ban as to rural counties, despite warnings from defenders of the old law that ordinary motorists might not be up to the task of handling pumps without causing fiery infernos or spills. [Brian Manzullo, Detroit Free Press]
As for New Jersey’s ban, Paul Mulshine wrote a column three years ago exploring its unlovely origins. He explains the oft-remarked New Jersey paradox — the state beats its neighbors on gas price even though all pumps are full-service — by noting that the Garden State has had (until recently) a relatively low gas tax and is located amid refineries and import operations, helping keep transport costs down. More: R.J. Lehmann, 2015.
- “Baseball rule” win for Yankees at appeals court: “Court Rules Against Fan in New York State Foul-Ball Case” [Zach Spedden, Ballpark Digest]
- More on the downfall of the $417 million baby powder verdict against Johnson & Johnson [Steven Boranian/Drug & Device Law, Robert H. Wright/WLF, earlier]
- Dear SCOTUS: certification of a class action should be based on admissible evidence [Andrew Grossman, Ilya Shapiro, and Meggan DeWitt on Cato cert amicus brief in Taylor Farms v. Pena]
- What could make the Florida hurricane season even costlier in this year of Irma? Giving contractors legal authority to take over claims under assignment of benefits (AOBs) [Nicole Friedman and Leslie Scism, WSJ]
- “NY’s Scaffold Law Could Add $300 Million Needlessly To The Cost of the Gateway Rail Tunnel Project” [Common Good] Letter: law hinders Habitat for Humanity [Albany Times-Union] More: editorial, Utica Observer-Dispatch;
- C’mon, New Jersey courts, get Daubert and scientific evidence screening right, it’s important considering how many pharmaceutical cases you see [Andis Robeznieks, AMA Wire; Devin Griffin/Drug & Device Law]
Hackensack, New Jersey: “A woman delivering plants to a Home Depot store claims the retailer was overrun by rodents and that a mouse jumped on her, leaving her traumatized and with physical injuries.” [Anthony Attrino, N.J. Advance Media]
A 1992 federal law forbids states to legalize sports betting. The Supreme Court should nix that under its federal-state “anti-commandeering” doctrine: “If the federal government wants to enforce its chosen policy, it must find a way to do so that doesn’t involve having New Jersey do its dirty work.” [Ilya Shapiro and Matthew Larosiere on Cato-joined amicus brief in Christie v. NCAA; Amy Howe; John Brennan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; earlier] More: Richard Morrison, CEI.
Law enforcement officials in some states are seeking warrantless access to prescription databases. A New Jersey bill “would require officials to ‘certify’ that they are engaged in a specific investigation,” seeking to calm fears that enforcers will begin trawling data for people to investigate. Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has already signed a similar bill. “In California, the Supreme Court ruled recently that the state Medical Board can dig through prescription drug records without a warrant or subpoena.” [Associated Press via Scott Shackford, Reason]
- New York City embarks on extensive new regulation of freelance work [Jennifer A. Williams, Ford Harrison]
- “Maryland Decriminalizes Unlicensed Barbering; Jacks Up Fines for Unlicensed Barbering” [Eric Boehm, Reason] “A New Jersey Bill Protects Pool Owners from Low Prices” [Shoshana Weissman, NRO on licensing of pool/spa service contractors and installers]
- “Lawsplainer: How The Seventh Circuit Decided That Sexual Orientation Discrimination Violates Federal Law” [Ken at Popehat, earlier here, here, and here]
- New Jersey taxpayers pay $100 million+ a year to resolve public worker lawsuits [Mark Mueller, NJ.com]
- “How the Fair Labor Standards Act Hurts Women” [Heather Owen/Constangy Brooks, thanks for mention] More on comp time: Diana Furchtgott-Roth, WSJ MarketWatch; Connor Wolf, Inside Sources.
- Browning-Ferris at the NLRB: “Predictable, Uniform Standard Needed for Who Is a Joint Employer” [Michael Lotito and Missy Parry, WLF, earlier here, here, here, here, here, and here]
“Antonio Salomon-Merlino of Carlstadt claims in a lawsuit he drank several Tequila-based drinks at two bars before crashing his motorcycle in Lodi. He alleges he was visibly intoxicated but the bars served him anyway.” [NJ.com] “He was definitely intoxicated,” said his lawyer. “In addition to the businesses, Salomon-Merlino is suing the borough of Lodi for allegedly failing to keep Outwater Lane in good repair and free from hazardous or dangerous conditions.”