Saturday, January 11, 2014
My Widener colleague, John Culhane, often writes for Slate. He is thinking through a piece about potential torts in the George Washington Bridge closure and asked me to post the following:
Does anyone want to weigh in on whether the BridgeGate scandal currently engulfing the Christie Administration is likely to result in successful tort litigation against state officials by those who suffered economic loss because of the traffic nightmares? The first hurdle would be the extent of sovereign immunity for intentional bad acts in New Jersey (which I'm hoping someone just knows!), but the more interesting questions have to do with whether the economic loss rule, which applies to accidental harm cases, would prevent suits for this kind of intentional misconduct. I'm thinking that New Jersey would be one state where the claim might have some traction, because of the People Express case, 495 A.2d 107 (N.J. 1985) (not much followed, but not overruled as far as I can tell), which expresses a broadly progressive view of tort liability. I'm also thinking that there's some traction in the interference with economic relations cases, even though these usually require specific intent to interfere with an economic relationship rather than an intent to do some other kind of harm (such as a battery, or, in this case, to make life miserable for the Ft. Lee mayor (as if he didn't have enough problems already!).
Any thoughts, torts colleagues?
You can respond in the comments or e-mail John directly at firstname.lastname@example.org .