New Jersey Experts & Daubert

GavelThe Metropolitan Corporate Counsel editor interviews Edward J. Fanning, Jr., Partner, McCarter & English, LLP and Chair of the firm’s Products Liability Group on tort reform  in New Jersey:

Editor: Is comprehensive tort reform needed in the state? What other features of such legislation are important?
Fanning: Yes. Reform is needed. The influx of out-of-state plaintiffs into New Jersey clogs our courts and frustrates the access of New Jersey residents to our court system. It also places a tremendous burden on our taxpayers. We would benefit from strengthening our requirements for admissibility of expert testimony and from more rigorous enforcement of forum non conveniens rules. That would help deter the influx of out-of-state plaintiffs who flock to New Jersey for its perceived plaintiff-friendly legal environment.

Editor: Describe the problems that defendants encounter with expert witnesses because the state has not adopted the Daubert rules.
Fanning: New Jersey needs to follow federal court precedent, namely Daubert , with respect to the admissibility of expert testimony. We’ve had concrete examples where in the same multi-jurisdictional litigation, proposed expert witnesses who have been barred from testifying by courts in Daubert jurisdictions because they use unreliable methodology and rely on junk science have nonetheless been permitted to offer those same “expert” opinions in New Jersey state courts. In permitting that testimony, New Jersey trial judges have explicitly cited Kemp’s lower threshold for the admissibility of expert testimony. In my view, strengthening the requirements for admissibility of expert testimony is the single most-needed tort reform in New Jersey. This would go a long way in changing New Jersey’s reputation as a litigation magnet for out-of-state plaintiffs.

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About Karen Olson

Information Professional with twenty years experience in legal, public record, and business research. Fifteen years law firm experience.

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