125 Years Ago
June 1888: In Craig v. Brand, the plaintiff had deposited a boatload of oyster shells in Maurice River Cove. Later, germs of oyster attached themselves to the shells and developed into marketable oysters. The Court of Errors and Appeals held that the new oysters were the property of the plaintiff, and that even if the depositing of the shells was a public nuisance, it did not justify the defendant converting them to his use.
100 Years Ago
June 1913: Judges seemed unable to agree on what to call the law governing workers’ injury claims. Some called it the Employers’ Liability Act, others the Workingmen’s Compensation Act and still others the Workmen’s Compensation Act. The Law Journal editors pleaded for consistency, if for no other reason than to allow them to report the cases under a uniform heading. In England, new acts of law were given short titles, but "as this has not been done, custom should make a title," they said.
75 Years Ago
June 16, 1938: In 16 appeals taken from rulings of the U.S. Court of the Appeals for the Third Circuit in the prior year, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed 16 times. "Fixed habits of legal thought possessed by the venerable judges of the circuit has been assigned as the reason for this record," the Law Journal editors said. Most of those judges had retired, but lawyers "should recognize and accept that there have been serious changes wrought in our society … and that there have been accompanying changes in concepts of social rights and duties," they added.
50 Years Ago
June 13, 1963: It was common practice at the time for county and municipal bar associations to establish schedules of minimum fees to discourage unseemly competition among bar brethren. In East Orange, for example, office consultations were priced at $10 for up to an hour, without research. Simple wills cost $25. Divorces ran from $400 if uncontested to $500 if contested. Criminal defense work was priced per appearance: from $75 for municipal court or district court to $200 for county court.
25 Years Ago
June 16, 1988: A federal court jury in Cippolone v. Liggett Group Inc. held a tobacco company liable for violating its promise to manufacture a safe cigarette. Though failure to warn of the dangers of smoking was found to be a proximate cause of plaintiff Rose Cippolone’s lung cancer and death in 1984, her estate won no damages because she was found 80 percent responsible, well above the 50 percent threshold for recovery under New Jersey law. But in the first verdict of its kind in the country, the jury awarded her surviving spouse $400,000 on the breach-of-express-warranty claim.