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Some offers are too good to be true; others are hard to refuse. Yet when it comes to personal injury claims, medical malpractice litigation and potentially frivolous lawsuits, which have large potential awards with flimsy theories of negligence, Rule 4:48 or the New Jersey Offer of Judgment Rule (the “OOJ Rule”) is a one-sided tool in favor of plaintiffs. One would think that any rule in the courts should always apply to both parties fairly. However upon closer examination, the OOJ Rule contains key phrases that benefit only the person suing for money because it specifically states it doesn’t apply if there is a “no cause” verdict, if the jury award is “de minimis,” or if enforcement would cause an “undue hardship” on the responsible party.

These unfair carve-outs destroy the deterrent effect of penalties that are supposed to be imposed on overly optimistic plaintiffs and their law firms when they file frivolous lawsuits. Ultimately when this OOJ Rule becomes a one-way tool, any time there is even a remote possibility of a ”runaway jury” award, plaintiffs will continue with their protracted lawsuit without any repercussions.

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