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.
Increasingly popular online “lead generation” services offering to connect attorneys with potential mass tort plaintiffs may expose counsel to ethics violations, the New Jersey Advisory Committee on Professional Conduct cautioned in two recent advisory opinions.
New Jersey attorneys are charged with the affirmative responsibility to “question whether the marketing company is improperly labeling its services,” the committee stated in a June 21, 2021 joint opinion with the Committee on Attorney Advertising. On the same date, the Advisory Committee issued another joint opinion with the Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law offering further insight on the circumstances in which a permissible client lead becomes an improper for-profit referral.
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.
Lawsuit advertisements—specifically ones that target prescription drugs and medical devices—can be dangerous. Nationwide, dramatized and exaggerated legal ads have flooded both televisions and the internet, often masquerading as “medical alerts.” Some estimates have total spending on legal advertisements at around $1 billion annually. As a result, state legislatures are beginning to take action to combat deceptive advertising and come up with solutions, including in Indiana, which recently passed House Bill 1125. House Bill 1125 places several limitations on the practice of lead generation – the use of commercial communications to initiate consumer interest or inquiry into legal services intended to redress an alleged injury from a medical device or legend drug – and provides a private right of action for manufacturers and sellers of medical devices and legend drugs against deceptive lead generators.
In March 2021, the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas (“PCCP”) released its Protocols and Guidelines for conducting in-person civil jury trials during the COVID-19 pandemic (the “Protocols”). To curb the spread of COVID-19, the Protocols outline several precautions, including mask requirements, enforced social distancing, reduced capacity, strategically placed Plexiglass, and the use of streaming technology. Now, over two months later, more Americans are fully vaccinated and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) recently stated that fully vaccinated individuals may forgo wearing masks indoors and outdoors. However, the Protocols currently remain intact. While the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania often has stated that it would follow the CDC’s most recent masking guidelines, Philadelphia has often been more restrictive than the rest of the state. Regardless, it remains unclear what impact the CDC’s guidelines will have on future civil jury trials in the PCCP. Therefore, when preparing for trial in the PCCP, attorneys must familiarize themselves with the Protocols. Below are highlights from the Protocols which attorneys should consider when preparing for trial in the PCCP.
Our language around settlements connotes war and peace – in settling we are “buying our peace” or “ceasing hostilities.” The old saw is that a good settlement leaves no one satisfied, but in truth, a good settlement leaves nothing significant left to do in the dispute. In abandoning claims or defenses, we seek a measure of closure. And in obtaining a durable settlement our client can live with, we necessarily rely, to some extent, on the regularity of the underlying proceedings, candor to the court, and some minimal level of good faith in the negotiations.
What happens when that reliance is upended and those expectations are dashed? A recent unpublished California decision provides a cautionary tale. It also stirred memories of a flawed settlement from three decades ago, inspiring this reverie.