New Jersey State Bar Association - The voluntary Bar Association of New Jersey, serving members since 1899.

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NJSBA Petitions the NJ Supreme Court to Hear $75 Fee Case

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA) filed a Notice of Petition for Certification today asking the New Jersey Supreme Court to review the Appellate Division decision in New Jersey State Bar Association, et al v. The State of New Jersey, et al, where the association challenged the constitutionality of the $75 fee assessed to attorneys to subsidize the Medical Malpractice Liability Insurance Premium Assistance Fund. The revenue from the fund would be used to help lower insurance premiums for physicians, help certain doctors pay off medical school loans and help fund charity care and medical care for indigent pregnant women. The NJSBA plans to file the actual petition and brief next week.

“We owe it to our members to pursue this challenge as far as we can despite unsuccessful attempts in the trial court and in the Appellate Division,” said NJSBA President Wayne J. Positan. "We believed from the outset that our position on this was correct, and we are hopeful that the New Jersey Supreme Court will consider, and ultimately find in our favor on this important principle."

The NJSBA began its challenge on Jan. 3, 2005 when it filed action against the State of New Jersey for the New Jersey Medical Care Access and Responsibility and Patients First Act, P.L. 2004, c. 17. The NJSBA contended the act is constitutionally infirm because it violates equal protection guarantees, intrudes on the rule-making authority of the Supreme Court, and improperly uses public money to benefit private parties, and constitutes special legislation.

On June 5, 2005, Thomas N. Lyons, P.J. Ch. granted summary judgment to the State in NJSBA v. State. In making his decision, Judge Lyons concluded the Legislature’s decision to assess attorneys in an effort to address a perceived health care crisis was rational and did not violate attorneys’ constitutional rights.

On Nov. 14, 2005, the NJSBA filed its appeal at the Appellate level, and on Wednesday, July 26, 2006 the Appellate Division affirmed the lower court decision and upheld the constitutionality of the statute.

The NJSBA was represented by Edwin J. McCreedy of McCreedy & Cox in Cranford, while Assistant Attorney General Patrick D’Almeida represented the State.

The New Jersey State Bar Association, incorporated in 1899, is dedicated to the continuing education of lawyers and the public, to reforming and improving the legal system and to aiding in the administration of justice.