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The New Jersey Senate and Assembly passed changes to the state’s 130 year old Wrongful Death bill. The bill then went to the Governor’s desk for his signature but he refused to sign it. Under New Jersey law, his failure to sign the bill had the same effect as a veto and the bill died. It will be reintroduced again in the next session of the legislature that began last Tuesday. Supporters of the bill were shocked that the Governor would favor big business, insurance and hospital lobbies over the rights of everyday citizens and grieving families.

“We would have expected this from a Republican Governor, but never from Governor Corzine who always lined up against these monied interests when he was a United States Senator”, said Michael A. Ferrara, Jr., an attorney from Cherry Hill, NJ, and a Past President of the New Jersey Trial Lawyer’s Associaton (ATLA-NJ) and the Civil Justice Foundation.

The bill was strongly supported by the AARP, The New Jersey Bar Association, consumer and labor groups, and the Trial Lawyers Association (ATLA-NJ). Fierce opposition to the bill was waged by the big pharmaceutical companies, lobbyists for doctors and hospitals, insurance companies and big business. They contended the bill will drive business out of New Jesey and raise medical malpractice premiums. However, the sponsor of the bill, Assemblywoman Shirley Oliver, said opponents of the bill were unable to provide her with proof of their allegations. Amos Gern, President of ATLA-NJ, said when the bill was passed: “this is a good day for New Jersey citizens. The surviving family members of those who die as a result of the negligence of others will be able to seek justice for the emotional harm they suffer.” Up until now, that was not an item of compensable damages under New Jersey’s antiquated Wrongful Death Act. “Unfortunately, the Governor let the citizens of New Jersey down and everyone hopeful he will sign it when it returns to his desk next session”, Gern added.

For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Wrongful Death.

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