As we continue to work from home, we hope that all of you are doing well, and staying safe, healthy, and self-distanced (a reflexive verb that has entered the lexicon perhaps for as far as we can imagine). For everyone, our work and world exist on email, phone, Skype, Zoom, and the like. A Zoom birthday party held this week brought family together from North Carolina and New Jersey, with surprising success. With courts largely closed for now, we anticipate in-person status conferences and motions moving from the courtroom, past the telephone, and on to Zoom and other videoconference platforms. Depositions can work well via videoconference in many cases. Mediations, and even arbitrations, are transitioning to video, at least for the foreseeable future, in appropriate cases. But trials, especially in personal injury cases, are another subject. Plaintiffs’ attorneys will still want their juries in live courtroom settings . . . until the trial delays bring financial woes to their firms and their clients. As we prepare for those trials, whenever they resume, we will keep you advised of courts’ changing rules and schedules, and of legal developments of interest. Stay safe and healthy.
As always, we can be reached 24/7. Our phones will route your calls to John (press 2) or Peter (press 3) at any time, with immediate connection to our cell phones.
It was all but certain to pass. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy was waiting to sign it. Television ads proclaimed its virtues. But the State’s anti-independent contractor bill (similar to California’s AB5) was pulled from the last legislative session. Groups representing independent contractors in myriad occupations made forceful and practical arguments against the bill. Included were freelance writers, musicians, doctors, various independent teachers, truckers, graphic designers, bakers, and others. Many legitimate independent contractor businesspeople prefer the freedom of owning and operating their own businesses. They do not want to be artificially classified as employees, a move they say would harm their businesses. The legislation was re-introduced on January 14th, and referred to the Labor Committees of both the Senate and Assembly. We are watching developments in both New Jersey and New York, which is also considering similar legislation.
CA: Preliminary Injunction Granted
Much to the relief of many, on January 16th, Judge Benitez granted a preliminary injunction to the California Trucking Association, temporarily stopping the enforcement of AB5 upon motor carriers. In his decision, Judge Benitez writes, “…there is little question that the State of California has encroached on Congress’ territory by eliminating motor carriers’ choice to use independent contractor drivers, a choice at the very heart of interstate trucking. In so doing, California disregards Congress’ intent to deregulate interstate trucking, instead adopting a law that produces the patchwork of state regulations Congress sought to prevent. With AB-5, California runs off the road and into the preemption ditch of the FAAAA.”