PRESS RELEASE: New York City Asbestos Court Among Top ‘Judicial Hellholes’ for Fourth Consecutive Year

December 5, 2017
Contact: Adam Morey


New York City Asbestos Court Among Top ‘Judicial Hellholes’ for Fourth Consecutive Year

Annual Report Focuses on Disappointing New Rules in New York’s Much Maligned Asbestos Docket

Advocates Say Bill Pending in State Legislature Will End ‘Double-dipping’

ALBANY – Today, the American Tort Reform Foundation released the latest ‘Judicial Hellholes’ report, ranking the New York City Asbestos Litigation court (NYCAL) as the #4 worst ‘hellhole’ in the nation. The 2017-18 report marks the fourth consecutive year that the “brazenly plaintiff-favoring” court has appeared near the top of the list.

New case management rules, imposed by former NYCAL presiding Justice Peter Moulton, have done nothing to solve the docket’s multitude of problems, the report argues. After so many years of covering NYCAL, the exasperated authors concede that, “rather than provide another comprehensive analysis of all the unseemly self-dealing that has long sullied NYCAL’s reputation…this year’s report – due to space limitations – will focus largely on a much anticipated and ultimately disappointing new Case Management Order (CMO).”

In addition, the report points to pending legislation introduced by state Senate Judiciary Chair Sen. John Bonacic (R-Middletown) and Assembly Member Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria). Their bill aims to solve the problem of ‘double dipping’ by plaintiffs’ attorneys in the dual compensation system, which is made up of asbestos trust funds as well as the state tort system.

New York’s legal reform group, the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY), which, along with a number of organizations including the Business Council of New York and the US Chamber of Commerce, signed on to an amicus brief in support of the defendants’ motion to renegotiate the CMO, agrees that while the ranking is an improvement from previous years, the court has not become any more just or fair.

LRANY Executive Director, Tom Stebbins said, “The New York City asbestos court again leads the nation as one of the most lop-sided and plaintiffs’ lawyer friendly jurisdictions. We support the defendants who filed suit to renegotiate the CMO and put an end to punitive damages and unscrupulous suppression of evidence through trust-fund ‘double dipping.’ Senator Bonacic’s bill to resolve that issue has gained support in the legislature and now has more than 30 co-sponsors throughout both houses. LRANY looks forward to seeing that bill signed into law.”

American Tort Reform Association President, Tiger Joyce said, “a much anticipated update to the court’s Case Management Order proved to be a great disappointment for defendants, as the plaintiff-favoring judge who wrote it was predictably rewarded with an appellate court appointment by a governor who acknowledges that trial lawyers are ‘the single most powerful political force’ in the state.”

The full report can be found here.


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