We are pleased to report that Raff & Raff recently appeared before the Appellate Division to argue an important appeal as amicus curiae counsel for New Jersey Association for Justice.
When a case is appealed, the attorneys who represent the parties would file briefs and argue before the court. However, when the appeal is important to the larger public interest then other attorneys may ask the court to be considers amicus curiae, which essentially means “a friend of the court.” Those attorneys typically argue for the interests of certain members of the public, who are not parties in the appeal, but who would be significantly affected by the outcome of the appeal.
New Jersey Association for Justice is a statewide association of over 2,400 members in private practice and public service, paralegals, law clerks, law students and law school graduates not yet admitted to the bar. NJAJ is involved in legal education for trial lawyers and political action to preserve the Constitution and to preserve the administration of justice.
Michael Raff and Daniel Levy are both NJAJ members, and they were contacted by NJAJ and asked to act as amicus counsel on their behalf regarding the appeal captioned Lambert v. Travelers Indemnity Co. The plaintiff’s attorney in that case had originally contacted NJAJ for assistance in the appeal.
The case was about a complex insurance issue. Basically, the question was about which insurance carrier is ultimately responsible for medical bills when a worker is injured in a car accident while on the job. The plaintiff argued to the trial court that the worker’s compensation carrier should be ultimately responsible. Traveler’s – the worker’s comp carrier for the plaintiff – argued to the trial court that they are supposed to pay for medical benefits as they accrue, but that they are entitled to be reimbursed by the plaintiff if the plaintiff brings a lawsuit and gets money from a third party. In practice, this means that the car insurance carrier for the person who injured the worker would pay money that would go to the worker’s compensation carrier. The question was important in this case because the plaintiff has settled her lawsuit with the insurance company for the at-fault driver for the full policy limit. That is a lump sum amount, not an amount that is split into portions for medical treatment and pain and suffering. After the settlement, the trial court agreed with the plaintiff that she did not have to reimburse Travelers for the medical benefits that they paid. Travelers filed the appeal.
Michael Raff and Daniel Levy authored the brief on behalf of NJAJ. Mr. Levy appeared before the Appellate Division for oral argument on June 2, 2016 and argued the case on behalf of NJAJ’s constituents, which was in line with the views of the injured plaintiff. We are eagerly awaiting the court’s decision as their decision will impact countless cases before New Jersey trial courts.