Small businesses will be sued by jobless

“A 2007 study, commissioned by the Institute for Legal Reform, concluded that small businesses alone pay $98 billion a year because of frivolous lawsuits — money that could have been used to hire more workers, expand businesses or improve employee benefits”.

An Op-Ed from the Washington Examiner which speaks out against the “American Jobs Act” explains “This provision creates more business for trial lawyers, not small businesses, by opening the floodgates to increased litigation”.

We know all too well that the litigious culture in America is out of control.  Adding fuel to the fire by giving trial attorneys a chance to blame businesses for not hiring those who are unemployed would be disastrous to our economy and job market, and deter employers from hiring at all.

Former AG candidate now a lawsuit lender

Sean Coffey, a lawyer who last year ran unsuccessfully for New York’s Attorney General in the Democratic Primary, has co-founded a firm that will fund lawsuits.  This is further proof that relationship between financing firms and lawyers must end.

The LRANY has taken a strong stand against this practice, often called “Non-recourse civil litigation financing”, or more commonly, lawsuit lending.

Such financing companies essentially engage in payday lending for litigation. They seek out consumers who have filed lawsuits and offer to pay them up-front money in exchange for a percentage of whatever award they may later receive in their lawsuit – a percentage which increases over time. Litigation companies prey on vulnerable consumers – people who are often injured and unable to work, with no financial support, and desperate for cash. These companies force the consumer to agree to unfair terms that ultimately result in the consumers giving up a big piece, if not all, of any award they may receive for their injuries.

 

Read more of the press release that LRANY released earlier today in response to a post in the TU Capitol Confidential.

 

Soaring healthcare costs crush economy

By Scott Hobson – Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York

A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation research group uncovered some disturbing facts – the average premium for health insurance for a family of four increased 9% in just one short year.  Average families, the report found, now pay over $15,000 per year for health insurance.

How did we get here? An undeniable reason healthcare is so expensive is the practice of defensive medicine and the proliferation of massive legal settlements – health care providers are ordering unnecessary tests and procedures for fear of being sued.  In America, the most litigious country in the world, we spend $50 billion each year on unnecessary “defensive” procedures.  Without medical malpractice reform, healthcare costs will continue to crush our economy while every American pays for million-dollar lawsuits against our best and brightest.

A recent article in the New York Times about this study questions the reason behind these climbing rates.

LRANY is committed to spreading the message about the need for reform!

The first step towards reforming New York’s unbalanced and antiquated justice system is awareness.  LRANY is committing to educating New Yorker’s about our issues and spreading the message.  

Does your company or someone you know want to learn more about lawsuit reform?

Our Executive Director, Tom Stebbins, is available to speak at conferences, meetings and other relevant venues where our message will be heard.

Contact us via email – info@lrany.org or phone- 518.512.5265 for more information. 

“Ridiculously long-lasting gum” gets ridiculous lawsuit

A Canadian woman recently filed a lawsuit against Stride gum’s parent company Kraft Canada claiming the chewing gum caused her 10 minutes of depression, an article in the Toronto Sun explains.  This senior claims that “over a period of five minutes the gum falls apart into little pieces and sticks to the dentures”.  She then had to remove the gum from her dentures, this “disgusting” process caused her short lived depression.

The senior is seeking $100,000 in general damages in addition to interest and court costs.

You can’t make this stuff up!

LRANY Announces Launch of Scaffoldlaw.org – Fighting to Reform a 19th Century Law

A new coalition of New York employers, farmers and others has joined together to make a major push to reform New York’s century-old “Scaffold Law” to help promote economic growth and recovery throughout New York.

Under New York’s Scaffold Law, contractors, employers and property owners are held absolutely liable for “elevation related injuries” even if the injury was not their fault.

New York remains the only state in the nation where a worker is not held responsible for their own negligence. Illinois was the last to reform the law, in 1995, and the effect was immediate: 50,000 new jobs and a sharp decrease in workplace injuries.  By reforming the law we can increase workplace safety and encourage greater responsibility.

The coalition has launched a new website –www.scaffoldlaw.org – to educate New Yorkers about the issue and to encourage grassroots supporters to contact their legislators to express their support for reform.

See the Press Release that LRANY issued earlier today.

 

Visit scaffoldlaw.org today to see how you can help reform this antiquated and outdated law!

Manhattan’s restaurant industry shaken by money-hungry lawyers

A recent article in the New York Post highlights the latest target of frivolous lawsuits in New York – our restaurants.  New York City restaurants have paid $30 million in settlements to a single Manhattan trial lawyer, who “invented this business”.  These lawsuits are devastating to NYC’s world-class restaurant industry.   Joe Bastianich, co-owner of Eataly, Del Posto and Babbo says, “Money-hungry lawyers, through frivolous lawsuits, are shaking down the very foundation of Manhattan’s restaurant industry.”

The fear of getting sued is spreading across the city and restaurants upstate are no doubt the next targets.  Many restaurant owners are choosing not to do business in New York.  “We opened Eataly and put 700 jobs in the New York economy. Since then we haven’t opened another restaurant in New York, nor will we,” Bastianich told The Post. “We opened three other restaurants, in California and Connecticut, worth 1,000 jobs that could have been here in New York. Someone in Albany needs to understand the agenda, what this is really costing the greatest restaurant city in the world.”

As with many other industries, the plaintiff-friendly laws in our state are driving businesses away. Our state needs reform to keep businesses in New York, create jobs and re-energize our economy!

Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo calls for tort reform

Yesterday, New York City Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo gave a speech to the Citizens Budget Commission calling for tort reform as a solution to regain the city’s economic stability.  The city paid out $561 million in tort related claims for 2011, an astronomically high number which could be drastically lowered by enacting various tort reforms.  Said Cardozo, ”The tort laws must be changed to even the playing field.”

In his speech, he highlighted two major reforms which he says would lower the city’s payouts by $100  million; implementing a cap on non-economic damages and reforming the joint and several liability rule in our state.

In the fiscal year 2011/2012 budget, Governor Cuomo proposed a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. Unfortunately, it was not adopted.  This reform would have eliminated skyrocketing “jackpot justice” awards, while still providing injured victims with full compensation for their medical expenses and lifetime care.  Million-dollar jury awards in cases against NYC come from the pockets of tax payers.  Cardozo explains that nearly half the states in the nation have limitations on pain and suffering awards.

The second reform that he spoke about was changes to the joint and several liability rule in New York.  Currently, in cases with multiple defendants, a defendant who is just 1% at fault can be forced to pay 100% or the judgment if the other defendant is unable to pay their share.  In motor vehicle cases, the less responsible defendant would also be responsible for paying the non-economic damages.  Cardozo gives an example of a case where New York City was forced to pay the full amount of a $5.25 million judgment, even though it was found to be only 23% responsible.

“I could continue for hours giving examples of pro- plaintiff, anti-defendant, particularly anti-government, tort laws. Yet persuading the New York legislature to enact any tort reforms, even if only limited to governmental entities, is a difficult task, to say the least, but it is essential to stop this raid on the public fisc.[sic]” – Cardozo.

LRANY applauds these efforts made by Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo to spread the message of the need for tort reform in our state.  Reforming our civil justice system and eliminating frivolous lawsuits could save the state millions and put money back into the pockets of taxpayers statewide.

1% responsible – you pay 100% of the verdict

New York’s current rule of joint and several liability means that in some cases a defendant who is only 1% at fault can be forced pay 100% of the judgment. If the defendant who is 99% at fault cannot pay, the financially solvent defendant must pay the entire award. This is often called the “deep pocket rule” as plaintiffs’ attorneys will look for the defendant with the most money to go after.  Rather than risk paying 100% of a judgment, many defendants will settle out of court, more often than not paying out more than what they are actually responsible for.

This practice is completely unjust as it can allow culpable defendants to get off scot-free, while putting a large financial burden a party who is minimally at fault.

Earlier this summer, PA Gov. Corbett signed the Fair Share Act into law, bringing joint and several liability reform to Pennsylvania.

The Fair Share Act brings a degree of fairness to Pennsylvania’s legal system. It maintains a person’s right to collect damages in a civil lawsuit while ensuring each defendant’s level of financial responsibility is assessed in a fair and equitable manner, as determined by a judge or jury.  A recent article explains that this new law brings fairness to malpractice suits.  The author, a CEO and President of a hospital, explains – “It will help reduce exorbitant legal and malpractice insurance costs paid by Pennsylvania health care providers resulting from frivolous lawsuits filed by plaintiffs and their lawyers seeking to “win the lottery” in a litigious climate where degree of liability had no bearing on degree of financial responsibility in a civil lawsuit.”

In 1986, New York modified its rule of Joint and Several liability, to bar its application for defendants who are 50% at fault or less. While this was a major step forward, the law included some major exemptions which significantly limited its effectiveness. For example, motor vehicle cases, the most common type of tort claim,  are excluded.  New York should eliminate the doctrine of joint and several liability and replace it with  the rule of proportional liability, also called “fair share liability”, in which defendants are financially responsible only for the percentage of the award for which they were at fault. This is simple common sense – a person who is 1% at fault should only be responsible for paying 1% of the damages.

Enacting this reform in our state would bring fairness to our justice system, not only in instances of medical malpractice, but across the board.

LRANY is fighting to bring Fair Share Liability to New York!

 

Study Reconfirms Need for Medical Liability Reform

“A study in this month’s New England Journal of Medicine provides the most comprehensive analysis of the risk of liability claims by medical specialty in more than two decades, and reinforces the need to put an immediate end to medical lawsuit abuse.

The study reports that in any given year, an average of 7.4 percent of doctors are faced with medical liability lawsuits, but nearly 80 percent of those claims result in no payment at all by the defendant.

The likelihood of being faced with a medical liability lawsuit did not necessarily correlate to payment by a physician – further proof that the system is broken and does not serve the needs of patients.”

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