Lodestar doctrine encourages frivolous discrimination lawsuits

By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist

?The Legislature declares its opposition to discrimination against any person by reason of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, gender identity or expression, affectional or sexual orientation, marital status, liability for service in the Armed Forces of the United States, disability or nationality, etc.

?The Legislature finds that because of discrimination, people suffer ? economic loss; time loss; physical and emotional stress ? which particularly impact on those protected by this act.

?Such harms have, under the common law, given rise to legal remedies, including compensatory and punitive damages. The Legislature intends that such damages be available to all persons protected by this ac ?.

?In any action or proceeding brought under this act, the prevailing party may be awarded a reasonable attorney’s fee.?

— New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, (LAD) NJSA 10:5-1, etc.


One Saturday last month, Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson and his chief of staff Howard Kyle came to our LibertyAndProsperity.org breakfast discussion. They wanted us to support the use of CRDA and other tax dollars for the NextGen Aviation project in Egg Harbor Township, saying it would bring high-tech aviation jobs to South Jersey.

But I and other Liberty and Prosperity members were skeptical.?We argued that we should first cut New Jersey?s high income, sales and property taxes, and our fourth-highest electric rates in the country. And then replace our pay-to-play political culture with laws that are fair and simple enough for everyone to get the licenses and permits they need.

Both Levinson and Kyle reminded us that Atlantic County government has strict laws that limit pay to play here.?But they also agreed with the issues we raised.

Then we talked about New Jersey?s Law Against Discrimination, or LAD. Levinson said that ?frivolous lawsuits? are also raising taxes and killing jobs in New Jersey. Because county government is now defending several of these lawsuits, Levinson could not go into details. But I can.

Almost all ?frivolous? lawsuits these days, including the ones brought against Atlantic County taxpayers, are brought under the LAD.

That is because more than a hundred hours of work and thousands of dollars of out-of-pocket costs are needed to bring almost any lawsuit these days. Most clients don?t pay lawyers more than they expect to recover. And hardly any lawyer takes such a case on a contingent fee for a percentage of the recovery. If the lawyer loses, he or she gets nothing.?And the lawyer also loses money if he only recovers a small amount.

But if anyone who is black, Hispanic, gay, single mom, disabled or in any other ?protected class? of the LAD is denied any job, promotion, pay raise, loan or apartment they think they should get, they can sue as victims of discrimination. They can even sue if they claim someone did or said anything that made them uncomfortable at work.

Since the LAD does not define disability,?creative lawyers can often find doctors who diagnose almost anyone as being ?disabled? with one physical or mental disorder or another.
When anyone in this protected class sues, almost anyone they sue is presumed guilty and bears the burden of proving his or her innocence.

The LAD encourages lawyers to bring many frivolous and petty LAD cases because they often force settlements that pay the lawyers very well.

This is because courts routinely award thousands of dollars to the LAD lawyers, even when their clients only prove a few hundred dollars of damages.

In the twisted world of the LAD, weak cases often pay lawyers more than strong ones. ? An LAD lawyer who normally charges $250 an hour can get $1,000 an hour for taking a weak case. The court applies something called the?Lodestar doctrine. The judge assumes that since a lawyer is likely to lose three out of every four weak cases he takes, he is ?entitled? to get four times his normal fee for the one weak case in four that he wins.

New Jersey politicians are borrowing and spending hundreds of millions of tax dollars on trains, stadiums, shopping centers and Revel-type casinos to ?stimulate? the economy.

But they will all fail until we get government officials to give us liberty ? low taxes, low electric bills ? and repeal or reform laws like the LAD.

The LAD, by encouraging people to clog the courts with weak and petty cases, raises taxes, hurts business, kills jobs ? and actually increases discrimination.

(Reprinted from March 28, 2012 Current-Gazette Newspapers of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, http://www.shorenewstoday.com/snt/news/index.php/politics/22806-lodestar-doctrine-encourages-frivolous-discrimination-lawsuits.html)

Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman appears on 92.1FM 8-9 a.m. Saturday. For information see www.libertyandprosperity.org, email sethgrossman49@gmail.com or call (609) 927-7333. Breakfast discussions are held 9:30-10:30 a.m. every Saturday at the Shore Diner on Fire and Tilton roads in Egg Harbor Township.

(Image Sources – http://www.stus.com/images/products/cla257e.gif & http://www.charmcitylawyer.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Barts-Blackboard.png)

  • Seth Grossman

    Seth Grossman is executive director of Liberty And Prosperity, which he co-founded in 2003. It promotes American liberty and limited constitutional government through weekly radio and in-person discussions, its website, email newsletters and various events. Seth Grossman is also a general practice lawyer.

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