Blank Rome Named a 2018 New Jersey Powerhouse by Law360

Blank Rome LLP is pleased to announce that the Firm has been named a 2018 New Jersey Powerhouse by Law360, who recognized Blank Rome and other leading firms in its 2018 Regional Powerhouses list for handling “some of the biggest deals and most high-profile courtroom battles,” offering clients “regional expertise and making a lasting impact on the law at the state and local level.”

Law360 recognized five firms, including Blank Rome, as New Jersey Powerhouses, notably for their accomplishments over the past year in regulatory and litigation fronts, as well as “thriving amid the competition that marks the most densely populated state in the nation.” Law360 particularly highlighted that the current crop of New Jersey Powerhouse firms are all home to former judges or New Jersey Supreme Court justices, to which former U.S. District Court Judge Stephen M. Orlofsky, who serves as Administrative Partner of Blank Rome’s Princeton office, stated, “It’s always nice to have a former judge or justice at the firm who you can consult for a variety of issues.” (NJ Powerhouses Seize Sports Betting, Pot Law Opportunities, Law360, Aug. 27, 2018.) Continue reading “Blank Rome Named a 2018 New Jersey Powerhouse by Law360

Meet Blank Rome’s 2018 Law360 Rising Stars

Blank Rome Partners Omid Safa and Michael A. Iannucci have been named 2018 Rising Stars by Law360 in recognition of their legal accomplishments in the categories of Insurance and Class Action, respectively. Below are excerpts of their profiles, as published by Law360Continue reading “Meet Blank Rome’s 2018 Law360 Rising Stars”

New Jersey Supreme Court Holds That Daubert Factors Apply to Evaluating Expert Testimony in Civil Cases

Lauren E. O’Donnell

On August 1, 2018, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that civil trial courts should look to the factors set forth in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993), in assessing the reliability of expert testimony. The opinion—In re: Accutane Litigation—adopted the Daubert factors, but specifically stopped short of declaring New Jersey a “Daubert jurisdiction.”

In the early 1990s, the New Jersey Supreme Court shifted away from the “general acceptance” standard for testing the reliability of scientific expert testimony in civil cases enunciated in Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923). It instead endorsed a methodology-based approach. See Landrigan v. Celotex Corp., 127 N.J. 404, 414 (1992); Rubanick v. Witco Chem. Corp., 125 N.J. 421, 447 (1991). The Court reasoned that parties should be permitted to present novel scientific evidence of causation if the trial court acts as a rigorous gatekeeper when reviewing an expert’s reliability and ultimately finds that the expert’s reasoning and methodology are sound. Two years later, in Daubert, the United States Supreme Court also abandoned the “general acceptance” test in favor of a methodology-based approach that entrusted trial courts with the role of gatekeeper. Thus, beginning in the early 1990s, New Jersey state courts considered similar factors to those in Daubert when evaluating expert testimony. Despite these similarities, the New Jersey Supreme Court never formally adopted Daubert or endorsed the factors identified in Daubert for state trial courts to use when performing the gatekeeper role. Continue reading “New Jersey Supreme Court Holds That Daubert Factors Apply to Evaluating Expert Testimony in Civil Cases”

How Video Game Mods Are Changing the Intellectual Property Game

Jeffrey N. Rosenthal and Ethan M. Simon

A year ago, the word “fortnight” was relegated to relative obscurity—an archaic way of saying two weeks. In July 2017, however, all that changed. After software developer Epic Games released the blockbuster video game Fortnite Battle Royale—a multi-platform, free-to-play game in which players participate in a cartoonish fight for survival in a post-apocalyptic world—the word “Fortnite” can now be heard everywhere.

Unlike other free games, Fortnite does not include ads; rather, to generate revenue it relies solely on in-game purchases from players to customize their avatar’s appearance (called “skins”) with no other qualitative enhancements. Despite its simple premise and novel business model, Fortnite has been an overwhelming success—boasting 45 million players as of February 2018. USA Today recently reported that in May 2018 alone, Fortnite earned over $318 million, with over $837 million in revenue in the last three months. According to Forbes, the game now earns $1 million a day just on mobile devices. Continue reading “How Video Game Mods Are Changing the Intellectual Property Game”

New Jersey Offer of Judgment Rule: NJ Supreme Court Holds High-Low Agreement Supersedes Plaintiff’s Offer of Judgment

Jonathan M. Korn

On July 19, 2018, the New Jersey Supreme Court, affirming both the trial court and Appellate Division, decided Serico v. Rothberg (A-69-16). In its decision denying Plaintiff’s attempt to recover her attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to New Jersey’s offer of judgment rule (R. 4:58, et seq.), the Supreme Court relied upon basic principles of contract interpretation and reminded all New Jersey lawyers and parties of the risks of relying upon silence and omission when later enforcing one’s rights.

The offer of judgment rule can be an effective tool to encourage settlement, primarily based on the threat that if the case does not settle, the party rejecting the offer may be forced to pay substantial attorney’s fees and costs. Rule 4:58 provides that if a party extends an offer of judgment which is not accepted and the party obtains a money judgment in an amount that is 120 percent or more of the offer, then the offeror would be entitled to seek their costs of the lawsuit, including attorney’s fees. R. 4:58-2(a). A high-low agreement, unlike the offer of judgment rule, does not encourage settlement, but instead limits parties’ risk at trial. As defined by Black’s Law Dictionary, a high-low agreement is “[a] settlement in which a defendant agrees to pay the plaintiff a minimum recovery in return for the plaintiff’s agreement to accept a maximum amount regardless of the outcome at trial.” Continue reading “New Jersey Offer of Judgment Rule: NJ Supreme Court Holds High-Low Agreement Supersedes Plaintiff’s Offer of Judgment”

New Jersey Legal Pulse Named a Top 60 New Jersey Blog

Stephen M. Orlofsky and Jonathan M. Korn

We are pleased to announce that New Jersey Legal Pulse was named a Top 60 New Jersey Blog to follow in 2018.

Blog rankings were based on Google reputation and Google search rankings; influence and popularity on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites; quality and consistency of posts; and editorial team and expert reviews. To learn more, please click here.

We are honored to be included in the Top 60 New Jersey Blogs list, and look forward to continuing to provide our readers with timely, relevant, and high-quality legal news and updates.

Appellate Division Holds That Non-Residents of New Jersey Have Right to Request New Jersey’s Public Records

Jaret N. Gronczewski

On May 16, 2018, the Appellate Division approved for publication a decision ruling that citizens from states outside New Jersey also have standing to obtain New Jersey’s public records under the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”). The opinion—Scheeler v. Atlantic County Municipal Joint Insurance Fund, No. A-2092-15T2—was rendered in connection with three consolidated appeals in which the trial courts below came to conflicting conclusions about the scope of OPRA and who had standing to request documents pursuant to OPRA.

The pivotal language in dispute was the first sentence in the first paragraph of OPRA declaring it to be New Jersey’s public policy that “government records shall be readily accessible for inspection, copy, or examination by the citizens of this State.” N.J.S.A. § 47:1A-1. Despite this seemingly unambiguous language limiting OPRA’s rights to New Jersey citizens, the court disagreed. It rooted its rationale in other more specific sections of OPRA that had no such limiting language, the policy preference to construe the right to access broadly, OPRA’s history and purpose, and the fear of producing an absurd result.

In so holding, the court found that it owed no deference to a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision in McBurney v. Young, 569 U.S. 221 (2013) that referenced OPRA as one of several state open records statutes that limited access to citizens of its state. The court found that the U.S. Supreme Court’s reference was dicta and not binding.

Scheeler is an impactful ruling with wide-reaching implications that had amici arguments on both sides. While Scheeler does represent a significant victory for public access, helping entities such as out-of-state news organizations, local New Jersey municipalities appearing as amici feared that this ruling “would place an undue burden on their limited resources.” The Scheeler court recognized the municipalities’ concerns, but it declared that “[c]oncerns about OPRA’s practical ramifications should be directed to the Legislature.” Because of the significant public interest in the court’s holding on this legal issue, the New Jersey Supreme Court may grant certification if a petition is filed.