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LRANY Response to the Executive Budget

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April 1, 2015

Response to the Executive Budget from Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York Executive Director Tom Stebbins

“We applaud lawmakers for reaching an agreement that will enhance the transparency of elected officials’ outside legal work. However, we are concerned that the new measures will do little to prevent corruption in cases where a lawmaker is representing the interests of a law firm, rather than any specific client. Furthermore, we are disappointed that our elected officials failed to seize this opportunity to pass meaningful reform to the Scaffold Law. The millions of New York taxpayers, businesses, and workers impacted by this law cannot wait any longer for relief.”

-Tom Stebbins, Executive Director, Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York

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Contact: Phoebe Stonbely | PStonbely@lrany.org | 518.512.5265 

The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY) is a nonpartisan not-for-profit association of businesses, professionals, healthcare providers, membership organizations, taxpayers, and concerned citizens committed to changing New York’s legal system to help create jobs and energize our economy.

See PDF Release

Albany Times Union: Hope Follows Silver Indictment

shelly cuffsToday, the Albany Times Union published a letter to the editor written by LRANY’s Phoebe Stonbely. This letter highlights the new found optimism and hope that is upon New York following the arrest and indictment of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

An Excerpt:

“Following the indictment of former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Albany may finally see an opportunity for justice, fairness and common sense to return to our legislative body. Mr. Silver’s more than 20-year reign as speaker is now under federal investigation by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, and the Legislature finally has a chance to shake the influence of the trial lawyers and work for the people of New York.

Year after year, Mr. Silver blocked sensible changes and reforms to our legal system. He adamantly opposed any reforms that would hurt of the bottom line of the trial lawyers, passed laws that would further expand liability and consistently told New Yorkers that there was no conflict of interest between his role as speaker and his six-figure income from a personal injury law firm.”

Read Full Letter

Scaffold Law Reform Advocates: Moya Bill a “Diversion”

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March 3rd, 2015

Scaffold Law Reform Advocates: Moya Bill a “Diversion”

Statement from Tom Stebbins, Executive Director of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York in response to Assemblyman Moya’s Scaffold Law “transparency” legislation:

Assemblyman Moya’s “transparency” legislation is nothing but a poorly-disguised diversionary tactic. Our coalition of over 60 organizations, representing businesses, builders, union contractors, affordable housing organizations, nonprofits, municipal groups, and taxpayers, has already provided tomes of national insurance data to lawmakers at all levels of government.

The data is clear: New York’s insurance costs are the highest in the nation, and the reason is the Scaffold Law. Far from earning outsized profits, insurance companies are abandoning the New York construction market entirely. We are encouraged that organized labor and the personal injury lawyer lobby has finally acknowledged the serious impacts of our astronomical construction insurance rates. Unfortunately, this misguided legislation does nothing to advance a meaningful discussion about Scaffold Law reform, which has strong bipartisan support.

Contact: Phoebe Stonbely | PStonbely@lrany.org | 518.512.5265

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The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY) is a nonpartisan not-for-profit association of businesses, professionals, healthcare providers, membership organizations, taxpayers, and concerned citizens committed to changing New York’s legal system to help create jobs and energize our economy.

Full PDF Statement

LRANY Announces 2015 Schedule of Events

The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York is excited to announce our 2015 schedule of events.  For the first time, LRANY will be holding multiple educational and informational events throughout the year and across the state. These events will appeal to broad audiences. Both members and non-members alike are welcome to attend pending space limitations.

The events schedule is as follows:

The Daubert Dilemma, Cutting Edge Science and Law in the 21st Century
New York City | April 29, 2015

Asbestos Litigation, Business as Usual in a “Judicial Hellhole”
New York City | June 2015

LRANY Fall Meeting, Will the Plaintiffs’ Bar Pull the Sword from the Stone?
Westchester | September 2015

LRANY Annual Meeting & Key Issue Summit
Saratoga | Fall 2015

More information on all of these events is available at our events page here.

Sponsorship opportunities are available for all of our events, see our 2015 Sponsorship Opportunities here

Statement from LRANY Executive Director Tom Stebbins on Governor Cuomo’s Comments on Tort Reform

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February 26, 2015

Statement from Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York Executive Director Tom Stebbins on Governor Cuomo’s Comments on Tort Reform

Governor Cuomo recently noted that tort reform legislation never gets passed by the legislature because, “There are little secrets that never sit right.” These secrets are plain to see. New Yorkers are well aware of the outsized financial influence of the personal injury lawyer lobby, which spent well over a two million dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions last year alone. Unfortunately, the identities of the clients of lawyer-legislators remain shrouded in secrecy. We commend Governor Cuomo’s efforts to bring transparency to lawmakers’ sources of outside income and urge him to take on needed reforms to trial lawyer golden eggs like the Scaffold Law – the personal injury lawyer lobby has had their finger on the scales of justice for far too long.”

-Tom Stebbins, Executive Director, Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York

Contact: Phoebe Stonbely | PStonbely@lrany.org | 518.512.5265

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The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY) is a nonpartisan not-for-profit association of businesses, professionals, healthcare providers, membership organizations, taxpayers, and concerned citizens committed to changing New York’s legal system to help create jobs and energize our economy.

See PDF Statement Here

Crain’s New York Business: Litigation Finance Needs Regulation

This weekend Crain’s New York Business published a letter to the editor from LRANY’s Manager of Government Affairs, Scott Hobson focusing on the over due reform and regulation of the litigation finance industry.

An Excerpt:

“Litigation-finance firms bet on the little guy” (Feb. 9), highlighting the litigation finance industry’s involvement with small business, serves as a timely reminder of the rapid growth of this questionable industry.

New York is at the epicenter of lawsuit lending, and the practice of lending directly to individual plaintiffs is on the rise. Troublingly, we have virtually no regulations in place to protect consumers from predatory lawsuit-lending practices.

The practice of lawsuit lending, referred to as third-party litigation financing, is illegal in the vast majority of Western nations. Lawsuit lenders seek out consumers who have filed lawsuits and offer cash advances on their claim in exchange for a percentage of whatever award they may later receive.”

Read Full Letter

The Buffalo News: Silver Indictment Offers Hope for Lawsuit Reform

This weekend the Buffalo News published a letter to the editor from LRANY’s Manager of Government Affairs, Scott Hobson highlighting the renewed opportunity for lawsuit reform with new leadership in the assembly.

An excerpt:

“News that former speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver has been indicted by a federal grand jury on corruption and conspiracy charges has spurred a renewed sense of optimism for supporters of common-sense lawsuit reform.

Silver, who served “of counsel” to a large personal injury law firm, was long seen as the greatest obstacle to lawsuit reform, unwilling to even consider proposals that would erode his personal profits and those of his employer. And while the personal injury lawyers thrived under Silver’s leadership, the rest of the state, particularly upstate, suffered. Thanks in no small part to our oppressive legal climate, many businesses have been forced to close or flee the state, taking jobs and tax dollars with them.”

Read Full Letter

The Most Outrageous Lawsuit of the Month Jan. ’15: Woman Sues When Tights Don’t Cause Orgasm

Welcome to the first 2015 edition of the most outrageous lawsuit of the month.

This month’s lawsuit is not guaranteed to hit the spot.

This week, Phoebe Stonbely will discuss a lawsuit about, Mung Wang – a woman from Queens has brought a federal class action case against the tights manufacture KushyFoot – for $5 Million. Why you ask, because the tights did not give her an orgasm.

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Statement from Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York Executive Director Tom Stebbins on Mayor de Blasio’s Recognition of Frivolous Lawsuits’ Impact on NYC

January 30, 2015

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Statement from Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York Executive Director Tom Stebbins on Mayor de Blasio’s Recognition of Frivolous Lawsuits’ Impact on NYC

“We applaud Mayor de Blasio’s recognition that frivolous lawsuits are major drain on the city coffers. As comptroller Stringer recently reported, New York City spends more on lawsuits than on parks, libraries and aging combined, to say nothing of frivolous lawsuits’ impact to the private sector.

We can fix this. We need to reform the rule of “joint and several” liability (where a party 1% at fault can be held 100% liable) to a more equitable “fair share” system, where liability is proportional to fault.

We also call on the mayor to support reform of the archaic and ineffective “Scaffold Law,” which holds contractors and property owners (including the City) fully liable in lawsuits for gravity-related construction injuries regardless of any contributing fault of a worker. Disaster relief organizations like Habitat for Humanity have identified the Scaffold Law as a major impediment to rebuilding efforts in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Affordable housing advocates have also called for reform of the Scaffold Law. The School Construction Authority has noted that they paid an additional $215m in insurance costs due to the Scaffold Law in 2014 alone, enough to build several new schools. Meanwhile, our kids go to school in trailers.

We need stop spending taxpayer dollars on frivolous lawsuits, and start spending them on the things that really matter to New Yorkers.”

-Tom Stebbins, Executive Director, Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York

Contact: Phoebe Stonbely | PStonbely@lrany.org | 518.512.5265

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The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY) is a nonpartisan not-for-profit association of businesses, professionals, healthcare providers, membership organizations, taxpayers, and concerned citizens committed to changing New York’s legal system to help create jobs and energize our economy.

See Full PDF Statement

Statement from Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York Executive Director Tom Stebbins Regarding the Imminent Departure of Sheldon Silver

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January 28, 2015

Statement from Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York Executive Director Tom Stebbins Regarding the Imminent Departure of Sheldon Silver

“News that Sheldon Silver will soon be replaced as Speaker of the Assembly marks the beginning of a new era in which New Yorkers can finally hope see to justice, fairness, and common sense return to our legal system.  For over a decade, Sheldon Silver served on the payroll of a personal injury law firm, and for over a decade New Yorkers suffered under the influence of the trial lawyer special interests.

After over 20 years of Silver’s tenure, we are left with a state ravaged by lawsuits and litigation. Our doctors and hospitals pay the highest liability insurance rates in the country, by a wide margin. Our contractors are unable to even find insurance, and when they do, rates are several times higher than those of their competitors in other states. Companies in the #1 ‘Judicial Hellhole’ that is the NYC Asbestos Litigation court face judgments that are 250% higher than the national average. Under Silver’s watch, the lawsuit industry has thrived while businesses have fled or crumbled under the burden of our imbalanced legal system.

We are all paying for Mr. Silver’s actions. Taxpayers are on the hook for well over a billion dollars a year in lawsuits and litigation. New York City spends more on lawsuits than on parks, libraries and aging combined. In just one year, the NYC School Construction Authority paid over $215m – the equivalent of 2-3 brand new schools – in additional insurance due to the outrageous Scaffold Law that Mr. Silver held in place for years while on the payroll of the trial lawyers who profit from it. Meanwhile, our kids go to school in trailers.

Today is a new day in Albany. We ask our elected officials to take on long overdue legal reforms, including Scaffold Law reform, transparency in asbestos litigation, stronger rules for experts and evidence in the courtroom, judgment interest rates in line with market rates, and fair share liability.

New York has been ‘Sue York’ for too long. We have no future as the lawsuit capital of the world. Today marks the beginning of a new era of justice, fairness, and common sense.”

-Tom Stebbins, Executive Director, Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York

Contact: Phoebe Stonbely | PStonbely@lrany.org | 518.512.5265

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The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY) is a nonpartisan not-for-profit association of businesses, professionals, healthcare providers, membership organizations, taxpayers, and concerned citizens committed to changing New York’s legal system to help create jobs and energize our economy.

PDF of Full Statement