Governor Cuomo’s proposed executive budget addressed many critical issues facing the state – mandate relief, the need for improved infrastructure, and the critical need to rebuild in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Unfortunately, absent from the proposed budget were legal reforms which could save the state and taxpayers hundreds of millions while stimulating private sector job creation and economic development. The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York supports a comprehensive package of legal reforms, including:
– “Scaffold Law” reform: New York is the only state in the nation which holds contractors and property owners automatically fully liable in lawsuits for gravity related injuries. Reforming this law to apportion liability based on proportion of fault would save hundreds of millions of dollars on public and private projects while protecting the rights of workers.
– “Joint and several liability” reform: New York’s rule of joint and several liability can force defendants who are as little as one percent at fault to pay the full value of a legal judgment. This creates strong incentives to sue entities with “deep pockets,” such as local governments, in the hopes of extracting a settlement. LRANY supports the more equitable standard of “fair share” liability, in which liability is equal to fault.
– Interest on judgments: New York’s interest rate on legal judgments is fixed at 9%, rather than the market rate. This inflates the value of judgments beyond the real value intended by the jury, and drives up costs to local governments and taxpayers. LRANY supports linking the rate of interest on judgments to the Federal Funds rate.