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For immediate release: February 15, 2007
For further information contact: Winnie Comfort or Tammy Kendig

Updated Judiciary Mass Tort (Non-Asbestos) Resource Book Developed for Wider Audience

A revised and enhanced edition of the Mass Tort (Non-Asbestos) Resource Book is now available on the Judiciary Web site at njcourtsonline.com. The comprehensive manual is a valuable reference tool for court staff and attorneys involved in mass tort cases in New Jersey and throughout the nation.

The manual explains that a mass tort may be designated by the Supreme Court when there is a large number of claims associated with a product; when a mass disaster produces common technical and legal issues; or when there is a large number of claims from a common environmental or toxic event. A Supreme Court-assigned judge manages all of the individual cases in a mass tort. Mass tort cases being resolved in New Jersey include a number of pharmaceutical, environmental contamination, lead paint and tobacco cases. The Mass Tort (Non-Asbestos) Resource Book provides information and guidelines to aid judges, court staff and attorneys in handling those very complex proceedings.

"New Jersey has become a national leader in handling mass tort cases. Our revised resource book compiles all of the information, forms and other documents developed from our experience," said Michelle Perone, chief of Civil Court Programs for the Administrative Office of the Courts.

The Judiciary Web site houses a comprehensive mass tort information center containing separate pages for specific litigation and related information, such as the designated judge, attorney list and special orders. This information is referenced by other states as they model aspects of their mass tort procedures after those used in New Jersey. The manual also aids out-of-state attorneys to know what is expected in New Jersey courts.

The revisions to the manual will provide further explanation for all parties and attorneys involved in mass tort cases. The most significant enhancement is the update of the relevant court rules. There is also a critical addition of new forms and case processing documents. Another notable development is the new section on commissions to take discovery, which are used to take depositions from non-resident witnesses. The revision also contains a useful section on complying with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which protects the security and privacy of medical information.

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