New Jersey Supreme Court Holds No Statute of Limitations Applies to Contribution Claims Under Spill Act

  ​The New Jersey Supreme Court has held that claims for contribution under the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act (“Spill Act”) are not governed by a statute of limitations. The Spill Act authorizes parties who have entered into an agreement with the state Department of Environmental Protection to remediate a discharge of hazardous materials to seek contribution from other responsible parties. Morristown Associates v. Grant Oil Co. concerned an action by the owner of a shopping center seeking contribution for the costs of remediating a leak in an underground storage tank used by a cleaning business that is
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College Awarded $125K in Court Costs in Action by Injured Gymnast

A federal magistrate judge has awarded Cornell University nearly $125,000 in costs following an unsuccessful action by an injured student. In Duschesneau v. Cornell University, the student sought over $75 million from Cornell following an injury while participating a campus gymnastics club, which rendered the student a quadriplegic. The action was based upon the contention that Cornell was negligent in failing to instruct and supervise the student. Cornell obtained a jury verdict in its favor after contending that it was reasonable and customary for members of club to use the gymnasium without supervision and instruction. ​After the verdict was upheld
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New Jersey Appellate Court Upholds Denial of Coverage and Enforces Anti-Concurrent Cause Language

​In Ashrit Realty LLC v. Tower National Ins. Co., the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court held that an insurer properly denied coverage for a building collapse resulting from soil erosion, following the collapse of a pipe. The Court’s decision reflects its willingness to enforce the plain language of a standard anti-concurrent/anti-sequential causation clause to exclude coverage arising from a non-covered cause, even if a covered cause contributed to the loss. ​A rain storm caused damage to a pipe running below the insured property that was followed by Hurricane Irene, which caused the pipe to collapse. As a
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New Jersey Appellate Court Declines to Hold Fraternity Liable for Shooting During Party

  ​The New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division has held that a fraternity is not liable for a shooting occurring during a party at a fraternity house, on the grounds that the shooting was not reasonably foreseeable. Peguero v. Tau Kappa Epsilon concerned a party at a private residence rented by several fraternity members. While the house was not recognized as an official chapter house of the fraternity, it was widely regarded by students as affiliated with the fraternity. While trying to assist a friend involved in an argument, a party attendee was shot and wounded by an unknown individual.
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Pennsylvania Superior Court Rejects Attorney-Client Privilege for Defunct Companies Without Current Representative

The Pennsylvania Superior Court has held that a former in-house attorney for dissolved companies cannot assert the attorney-client privilege in response to a subpoena for documents pertaining to his former representation of the companies. In so doing, the Court held that the attorney-client privilege may only be asserted for a defunct company if a current representative of the company possesses the authority to raise the privilege. Red Vision Systems, Inc. v. National Real Estate Information Services, LLC concerned a complaint against three affiliated title search companies alleging that the companies failed to pay for certain services. After the lawsuit was
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Suits Alleging Defective Decks Centralized in New Jersey

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has ordered that pre-trial proceedings in twelve putative class actions alleging defects in composite outdoor decking materials be coordinated or consolidated in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. The suits contend that decking materials sold by GAF Materials Corp. tend to warp, crack, and swell. The suits also allege that these materials develop mold, mildew, and fungus, resulting in discoloration. The actions include claims for violation of consumer protection laws, breach of warranty, and unjust enrichment. ​The Order covers six cases that originated in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, North
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New Jersey Supreme Court Analyzes Right to Jury Trial in Statutory Insurance Fraud Cases

​On Monday, January 5, the New Jersey Supreme Court heard oral argument in a matter raising the question of whether a defendant in a civil action brought under the state’s Insurance Fraud Prevention Act (“IFPA”) has the right to a jury trial. Allstate New Jersey ins. Co. v. Lajara concerns allegations that the defendants owned and operated several chiropractic facilities that engaged in an ongoing pattern of fraud, including staging automobile accidents and paying kickbacks for referrals. The plaintiffs seek restitution of $8.2 million in personal injury protection benefits paid as a result of the alleged fraud, as well as
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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Authorizes Assignment of Statutory Bad Faith Claims to Third Parties

In a landmark decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has held that claims under the Pennsylvania insurance bad faith statute may be assigned to third parties. This decision will enable plaintiffs who have obtained an excess verdict against a policyholder to not only pursue a common-law bad faith claim against the liability insurer for the excess verdict, but also pursue a statutory bad faith claim for punitive damages, attorney’s fees, interest, and costs. The Supreme Court’s decision in Allstate Prop. and Cas. Co. v. Wolfe answered a question certified by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in
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New Jersey Appellate Court Examines Impact of Claimant’s Settlement With Tortfeasors Upon Insurer’s Subrogation Rights

​In Nucci v. American Ins. Co., the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, examined whether a policyholder’s settlement with alleged tortfeasors precludes an insurer from pursuing subrogation claims against the tortfeasors. While the Court did not issue any precedential decision at this time, the opinion indicates that it may ultimately determine whether tortfeasors who settle a claim with the primary insured while on notice of an insurer’s intent to seek subrogation remain exposed to subrogation claims by the insurer, even if the insurer is challenging coverage and has not paid the claim at the time of settlement. ​Nucci concerned a
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