WHAM 13: Local business leaders rally against New York’s Scaffold Law

Rochester, N.Y. – Local business leaders are calling for New York to repeal a law they say raises the cost of construction projects.

Opponents of the Scaffold Law say insurance companies are forced to charge higher premiums for construction insurance because the law holds builders 100 percent responsible for gravity-related injuries at a work site.

Friday, local business leaders gathered to call on New York to repeal the law.

“It’s been around since 1885, and every other state has gotten rid of it because it’s costly and provides no benefit,” said Lawsuit Reform Alliance executive director Tom Stebbins. “We in New York cannot advance if we have a law that costs billions of dollars, only exists in New York and has no discernible benefit.”

Click here to watch the full segment.

NY Post: Nearly half of the world’s ‘most ridiculous’ lawsuits were filed in NY

The New York Post reports that…

Nearly half of the “most ridiculous” lawsuits in the world this year were filed in New York.

The Empire State has the dubious distinction of landing four of the top 10 spots in an annual list compiled by the US Chamber ­Institute for Legal Reform.

Brooklyn federal class-action suit against Kind Bars took the No. 2 spot. The snack-bar company was sued for putting what the plaintiff called “chemical-sounding terms like ascorbic acid” in its products, which is just another name for vitamin C, the institute says. The case is ­ongoing.

The No. 3 slot belongs to Biola Daniel, of Manhattan, who sued Tootsie Roll Industries, claiming her box of Junior Mints was half-filled with air — even though the amount of mints is listed on the package.

Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald tossed the candy case, saying that allowing the suit to proceed would “enshrine into law an embarrassing level of mathematical illiteracy.”

“The law simply does not provide the level of coddling plaintiffs seek,” she added.

Read the full story here.

Today’s Verdict with David Lesch

LRANY’s Thomas Stebbins joined David Lesch on Today’s Verdict to talk about lawsuit lending and the high cost of municipal liability in New York City

NY Post: Wall St. cashing in on NYC’s legal feeding frenzy

Wall Street hedge funds are cashing in on New York’s legal feeding frenzy by financing “mass tort litigation” over prescription drugs and medical devices in exchange for a piece of the action when the cases settle, the “Judicial Hellholes” report reveals.

The result is an “unfair playing field for defendants,” the report says.

Tom Stebbins of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York called the funding “the latest money-making innovation for the lawsuit industry.

“Our civil-justice system has been converted into a profit center,” Stebbins said.

“Financiers draw out cases to maximize return, not ensure fairness in the system.”

The situation led the New York City Bar Association to issue a formal ethics opinion in July, barring lawyers from cutting funding deals with non-lawyers.

That edict, intended “to protect the lawyer’s independence of judgment,” followed a New York Times report on a boom in litigation financing by hedge funds.

The Times article, published in June, cited analyst estimates that litigation funding was a burgeoning, $10 billion industry.

Read the full story here.

Daily News: Lawmakers and advocates gear up to reform costly construction law

The New York Daily News ran a story about the renewed push to reform New York’s costly construction liability law, the “Scaffold Law”:

Critics of a controversial state law that makes construction companies 100% liable for work-site injuries are pushing for an overhaul of the statute amid ramped-up talks on a massive new train tunnel project.

Those opposed to the so-called “Scaffold Law” — the only one of its kind in the country — say it could add up to $300 million to the cost of the Gateway project to bring a new tunnel underneath the Hudson River to better accommodate Amtrak and NJ Transit. President Trump and Gov. Cuomo met recently to discuss the fate of the project.

And they argue it’s already increased insurance costs.

Read the full story here.

NYC is drowning in ridiculous, pricey lawsuits

New York City is being tort-ured.

The Big Apple is drowning in so many frivolous lawsuits — over everything from food packaging and advertising to the design of retail websites — that the city’s court system has become one of the nation’s worst places for civil justice, a damning report out Tuesday reveals.

The American Tort Reform Foundation will give New York City the dubious distinction of placing No. 3 on its annual list of “Judicial Hellholes” where plaintiffs lawyers run amok with the help of accommodating judges and do-nothing lawmakers.

The report, a copy of which was provided to The Post in advance, turns up the heat on the city’s court system, which has previously come under fire from the ATRF for the “brazenly plaintiff-favoring ways” of a special court for asbestos-related personal injury suits in Manhattan Supreme Court.

Read the full story from the New York Post here.

NY Post: Underwood’s Exxon probe is doomed to fail

The New York Post published an op-ed from LRANY’s Public Affairs Manager Adam Morey about the baseless lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood against Exxon Mobil for allegedly defrauding investors.

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood launched a desperate bid to salvage her predecessor’s failed three-year fishing expedition by filing suit against ExxonMobil in Manhattan Supreme Court. Talk about a stretch: It’s hard to understand even what wrongdoing Underwood is alleging, never mind how she can prove it.

Why would Underwood file such a weak case? Well, aside from any residual loyalty to Schneiderman or colleagues who worked on the probe, and aside from any ideological motivation of her own, there may be something else driving her action: She’s being pushed by outside lawyers.

Read the full op-ed here.

LRANY win at the New York Court of Appeals

The New York Law Journal reports that the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, affirmed the lower court’s decision to toss an $11 million asbestos verdict rendered against Ford Motor Company, citing “insufficient evidence.” The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York joined local and national allies in the filing of an amicus brief in support of the decision. Arthur Juni, the plaintiff in the case was represented by Weitz & Luxenberg, the asbestos litigation firm that once counted corruption-convict and former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Juni was at one time treated by Dr. Robert Taub, the Columbia University researcher at the heart of Silver’s corruption scandal.

The full New York Law Journal story can be found here.

NEW YORK CITY APPEALS GLOBAL WARMING LAWSUIT AGAINST OIL COMPANIES

The Daily Caller quoted Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York executive director Tom Stebbins in a story about New York City appealing a federal judge’s decision to toss the city’s climate change lawsuit against the fossil fuel companies.

“Judge Keenan rightly tossed this lawsuit,” Tom Stebbins, executive director of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an emailed statement.

Stebbins also railed against New York City’s reliance on trial lawyers to bring their case against oil companies. The city initially filed its lawsuit in January.

“Policy should be decided in the statehouse, not the courthouse,” Stebbins said. “An issue as crucial and complex as climate change needs real leadership from elected officials, not private personal injury lawyers looking to cash in and line their own pockets.”

Read the full story here.

Crain’s: Law firms aim to strike it rich with settlements from Big Oil

Crain’s New York Business published an op-ed from LRANY’s Tom Stebbins about how private interests and law firms are working behind the scenes on climate change litigation:

New York politicians like to claim their leadership in the fight against climate change, but behind the scenes a small group of lawyers and donors are the ones pulling the levers.

Environmental activists, plaintiffs’ lawyers and government representatives gathered late last month at Columbia University to discuss expanding their effort to use the civil justice system to combat the effects of climate change. In recent years private contingency-fee lawyers have worked hard to conscript like-minded, headline-hunting elected officials including Mayor Bill de Blasio and disgraced former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to file lawsuits and join the litigation.

Profit-driven law firms, looking to strike it rich with a cut of possible settlements, are driving this effort to politicize the judiciary for financial gain. While their distortions of tort law have mostly failed in the courtroom, the lawyers have succeeded in infiltrating the offices of climate-crusading politicians.

Read the full op-ed here.