(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Bob Andrzejczak, Eric Houghtaling and Adam Taliaferro to protect New Jersey’s farmers against frivolous lawsuits was released Monday by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
“Lawsuits are costly and disruptive,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland), who chairs the committee. “This will help discourage frivolous litigation against farmers by placing a burden on the complainant to demonstrate that the complaint was brought in good faith.”
“This will protect farmers against unnecessarily troublesome litigation that challenges normal farm management practices,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth).
“It can be tough running a business while having to fight a lawsuit,” said Taliaferro (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “This helps protect farmers against meritless lawsuits that can be time consuming and financially draining.”
The bill (A-4847) would allow a farmer who prevails in a civil case, where the farmer is engaged in lawful farming activities under the “Right to Farm Act,” the opportunity to collect reasonable costs and attorney fees against the complainant, if the complainant cannot show by clear and convincing evidence that the claim was brought in good faith. The bill further clarifies that wildlife management activities undertaken by a farmer that are in accord with state and federal law are presumed to not constitute animal cruelty and that a farmer may collect reasonable costs and attorney fees against a complainant in a civil animal cruelty action, if the complainant cannot show by clear and convincing evidence that the claim was brought in good faith.
The bill would take effect immediately, and would apply to all actions commenced after the effective date of the bill.