LG Chem Secures a Second Look at Jurisdictional Issues in NJ Vape Battery Suit

The New Jersey Appellate Division has held that Korean company LG Chem Ltd. (“LG Chem”)will have another opportunity to dispute New Jersey’s jurisdiction over it in a product liability lawsuit concerning a vaping device battery.  The decision is based, in part, on the trial court’s failure to order jurisdictional discovery and convene an evidentiary hearing to resolve the disputed jurisdictional allegations before deciding LG Chem’s pre-answer motion to dismiss.  This case underscores that in New Jersey, the standard governing motions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, unlike other bases, requires the court to look outside the disputed pleadings alone.

The New Jersey plaintiff alleged he was injured when a lithium-ion battery manufactured by LG Chem exploded in his pocket.  Plaintiff attempted to serve process on LG Chem through two of its U.S.-based subsidiaries, LG Chem America, Inc. (LGCAI) and LG Chem Michigan, Inc. (LGCMI).  The agents of both refused to accept service.

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Georgia Supreme Court Will Address the Problem of Abusive “Apex” Depositions

A frequent and vexing issue for corporate defendants, in products liability and other cases, is the demand for a deposition of the company’s CEO or depositions of other senior executives. Even when these executives were not involved in the relevant events and have no relevant personal knowledge, plaintiffs push for their depositions to gain leverage for settlement or for other illegitimate reasons.

Many federal courts provide protection from these demands by applying the “apex doctrine,” a rule that usually shields high level officers if they have no unique personal knowledge or involvement and the relevant information is available from other sources.  These courts have recognized that corporations may be involved in many lawsuits and forcing busy executives to testify when they have no significant personal knowledge or involvement would impair their ability to manage the corporation’s business.

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District of New Jersey Clarifies New Local Civil Rule Regarding Third-Party Funding Disclosures

Over the last four months, we have tracked the District of New Jersey’s proposal and adoption of a new Local Civil Rule – L. Civ. R. 7.1.1 –  requiring lawyers to disclose details about third-party litigation funding.  The Clerk of the District of New Jersey has now issued a Notice to the Bar clarifying that this new Rule only requires the filing of a statement where third-party litigation funding exists.

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District of New Jersey Adopts Local Civil Rule Requiring Disclosure of Third-Party Litigation Funding

The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey has adopted new Local Civil Rule 7.1.1, requiring lawyers to disclose details about third-party litigation funding.  On June 21, 2021, Chief Judge Freda L. Wolfson signed the order formally amending the Rule to include Section 7.1.1.

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District of New Jersey Proposes New Local Civil Rule Requiring Disclosure of Third-Party Litigation Funding

The United States District Court for the District of New Jersey has announced proposed amendments to its Local Civil Rules, including a new rule – Civ. Rule 7.1.1 – regarding “Disclosure of Third-Party Litigation Funding.”

As we previously observed on this blog earlier this year, the exact dollar amount that third-party investors infuse into U.S. lawsuits each year is unknown, but conservative estimates begin at approximately $2.3 billion.  Currently, the District of New Jersey’s Local Civil Rules are silent as to litigation funding, but the District is focused on the importance of understanding the parameters of outside litigation funding and a mechanism for requiring disclosure.

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Considerations from the ABA’s Best Practices for Litigation Funding

The exact dollar amount that third-party investors infuse in U.S. lawsuits every year is unknown, but conservative estimates begin around $2.3 billion, with agreement that the industry has room to grow. With the ongoing pandemic stretching litigation timelines and straining budgets, the litigation funding industry remains highly active. Despite the importance of litigation funding to all parties involved (lawyers, plaintiffs, and defendants), regulation varies by state, and litigation funders are largely left to self-regulate.

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