Tort reform needed to combat frivolous lawsuits

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Whenever the drivers of New Jersey’s highest in the nation property taxes are debated, the finger is rarely pointed at frivolous or meritless lawsuits. These destructive lawsuits are an unfortunate part of municipal life that has the ability to negatively impact the local budget in a number of ways.

The township has to deal with a number of these annually, and at best, they will be dismissed and we will have had only the cost of the legal representation. At worst, the cost to settle is far less than going to trial so the township insurance company will take the least costly way to avoid the expense of lengthy litigation.

This provides a frightening incentive to unscrupulous individuals or companies whose only mission is to score an easy payout knowing the hands of the governing body are tied by the system. Until tort reform is instituted and the United States adopts a “loser pays” system, these types of lawsuits will continue to unnecessarily cost the taxpayers millions of dollars.

Moreover, the Legislature can and should do its part to institute tort reform at the state level to give municipalities the needed tools to fight back against frivolous lawsuits and the outrageous costs they place on the already overburdened New Jersey taxpayer.

Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger
Middletown

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