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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: On NYSTLA Lobby Day, LRANY Decries Trial Lawyer Influence

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For Immediate Release
May 17, 2016
Contact: Phoebe Stonbely
pstonbely@lrany.org
518.512.5265

On NYSTLA Lobby Day, LRANY Decries Trial Lawyer Influence
Deemed “the single most powerful political force in Albany,” by Governor Cuomo, legal reform group calls for end to shadow government and no-show jobs

POA-Report-2016-Web-Layout_HI-RESOLUTION-_PS-(002)-001ALBANY – As the trial lawyers roam the halls of the Capital and Legislative Office Building for their annual lobby day, the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY), the state’s only advocacy group dedicated to civil justice reform, is calling the out-sized political influence of the trial lawyer lobby a “shadow government.” The Albany-based group recently released its annual “Power of Attorney” report, which analyzes the lobbying spending and political contributions of New York’s plaintiffs’ lawyer lobby. LRANY found that for the sixth consecutive year, the plaintiffs’ lawyer lobbying spend continued to surge, a 64% increase since 2010. According to the report, in 2015 plaintiffs’ lawyers, their lobbying groups, and associated Political Action Committees (PACs) spent a combined $2.64 million to influence state elected officials.

“It is no secret that the strong influence of the trial lawyers translates into lawsuit friendly policies that hurt our local businesses, healthcare professionals and municipalities,” said Tom Stebbins, LRANY Executive Director. “Even though trial lawyers were at the center of the biggest corruption scandal to hit Albany in years, and that’s saying something, their influence remains strong thanks to the money they continue to shower on Albany politicians.”

The group features former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on the report’s cover to highlight the disgraced politician as an indisputable example of the trial lawyers’ influence over the New York legislature. “Dozens of bills were blocked by the former speaker, promoting policies that continually lined the pockets of the trial lawyers’ at the expense of the taxpayer and the state’s economy.” Stebbins explained, “the vicious cycle of political influence flourished as the millions made suing New Yorkers went right back into the coffers of high ranking elected officials.”

LRANY is hopeful that following the change in legislative leadership, New York may begin to see overdue civil justice reforms enacted. “Our elected officials are meant to represent the people, not the interests of their wealthiest donors,” argued Stebbins.

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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.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: New York Plaintiffs’ Lawyer Lobby Spending Continues to Increase Despite Corruption Exposure

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 11, 2016
Contact: Phoebe Stonbely
pstonbely@lrany.org
518.512.5265

New York Plaintiffs’ Lawyer Lobby Spending Continues to Increase Despite Corruption Exposure

For the sixth consecutive year, plaintiffs’ lawyer lobbying spend surged, a 64% increase since 2010

POA-Report-2016-Web-Layout_HI-RESOLUTION-_PS-(002)-001(Albany, NY) – Today, the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY), a nonpartisan, nonprofit association focused on statewide civil justice reform, released their annual “Power of Attorney” report, which analyzes the lobbying spending and political contributions of New York’s plaintiffs’ lawyer lobby. The report found that in 2015, plaintiffs’ lawyers, their lobbying groups, and associated Political Action Committees (PACs) spent a combined $2.64 million to influence state elected officials.

The report identified over $450,000 in campaign contributions from PACs of the state’s two plaintiffs’ lawyer special interest groups, the New York State Trial Lawyers Association (NYSTLA) and the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers (NYSATL). Additionally, the groups spent $1.38 million in lobbying – a 10% increase over the prior year and a 64% increase since 2010. The substantial increase surprised the reports’ authors given that 2015 was not an election year.

“This 64% increase far outpaces inflation, revealing a continued return for the trial lawyers on their investment in Albany politics,” said Tom Stebbins, Executive Director of LRANY.

Stebbins explained that this report exposes what he dubbed “a vicious cycle of corruption” within the New York State legislature, “personal injury trial lawyers continue to make money from Albany policies, and put more and more of that money back into the pockets of Albany politicians, who, in turn, maintain those trial lawyer-friendly policies.”

The report concluded that the fiduciary influence of the trial lawyer special interest is a ‘significant roadblock to common sense lawsuit reform.’

Stebbins stressed, “This report is proof of the trial lawyer lobby’s role as ‘puppet masters’ of the state legislature, pulling strings to target the key committees to keep their ‘vicious cycle of corruption’ rolling. We only hope that the continued exposure of the crooked practices in our state government will lead to the past due positive changes New Yorkers have been waiting for.”

A digital copy of the report can be found here: http://bit.ly/22ifa0I

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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.

Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin – Forms Show What Lawmakers Do — or Don’t Do — for Clients

Last week, the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin ran an article, Forms Show What Lawmakers Do — or Don’t Do — for Clients, which highlighted LRANY’s recently released analysis of lawyer-legislatures in New York and their outside income. The piece also quoted LRANY executive director Tom Stebbins on the issue.

An excerpt:

“Twenty-three state lawmakers who also work as attorneys reported receiving income from law firms last year, according to Albany-based Lawsuit Reform Alliance’s analysis of the most-recent round of financial-disclosure documents, which were made public in late June.

In total, those lawmakers made between $3 million and $4.2 million for their legal work in 2014, assuming Silver was paid the same as he was in 2013, the analysis showed. The number is somewhat inflated, however, by freshman Sen. Marc Panepinto, D-Buffalo, who made at least $900,000 as an attorney last year prior to taking office.

Overall, about one in five of the state’s 213 legislators are licensed attorneys, though not all practice, according to the lawsuit-reform group’s analysis.

‘New York is the lawsuit capital of the world,’ said Tom Stebbins, executive director of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance, which pushes for changes to the state’s legal system. ‘You’re more likely to get sued in New York than anywhere else, and that’s in large part because the legislators we have are often thinking in terms of what benefits lawyers.'”

See Full Article

Democrat & Chronicle: Lawmakers Who Worked for Law Firms Earned 3x Their State Salary

breifcase cashGannett’s Joe Spector recently covered information released by LRANY in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. The data is an addendum to our Power of Attorney report from April of this year.  The piece focused on the outside income of legislatures whom also double as lawyers.

An excerpt:

“State lawmakers who were employed at law firms earned as much as $4.2 million last year for their outside work, a group seeking tort reform said.

In total, one in five of the 213-seat state Legislature are attorneys, and 23 reported receiving outside income in 2014, the Lawsuit Reform Alliance said in a report.

The group said that the 10 legislators who worked at personal injury law firms averaged an $239,000 income, about triple their base state salary of $79,500.”

Read full article here

See LRANY release and addendum here

New York Post: Legislators Doubling as Lawyers Raked in $4.2M in 2014

Raking In The MoneyThe New York Post recently covered information released by LRANY as an addendum to our Power of Attorney report from April of this year.  The piece focused on the outside income of legislatures whom also double as lawyers.

An excerpt:

The 42 state legislators who are lawyers pulled in as much as $4.2 million last year from their ‘outside jobs,’ according to a report Tuesday.

Topping the charts were the personal-injury attorneys, who hauled in an average of about $239,000, the Lawsuit Reform Alliance said.

The group said the earnings call into question the independence of lawmakers who have a lot to gain or lose from votes that could affect their outside careers.

‘Any time you have public officials receiving two, three, even 10 times more than their state salary from outside legal work, there are going to be questions about conflicting interest,’ said Tom Stebbins, executive director of the alliance.”

Read full article here

See LRANY release and addendum here

For Immediate Release: Lawyer-Legislators Raked in Millions in Outside Income in 2014

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For Immediate Release
July 21, 2015
Contact: Phoebe Stonbely
pstonbely@lrany.org
518.512.5265

 

Lawyer-Legislators Raked in Millions in Outside Income in 2014
New analysis finds average legal fees and income for trial lawyer-legislators is three times their state salary

poa addendumA recent analysis of state legislators’ outside income by the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York, a nonpartisan nonprofit legal reform association, has found that lawyer-legislators received as much as $4.2 million in income for part-time legal work. In total, one in five members of the state legislature are attorneys, and 23 reported receiving outside income in 2014. The analysis is an update of the group’s “Power of Attorney” report, released in April, which found that political and lobbying spending by the personal injury lawyer lobby has climbed substantially in recent years.

The analysis found that the ten legislators moonlighting as personal injury lawyers accounted for 65% of all outside legal income, as much as $2.7 million. The average outside income for personal injury lawyer-legislators was $239,000, approximately triple their state salary.

Tom Stebbins, Executive Director for the Lawsuit Reform Alliance, expressed concerns about the outsized income earned by personal injury trial lawyers, “Any time you have public officials receiving two, three, even ten times more than their state salary from outside legal work, there are going to be questions about conflicting interests. Personal injury firms in particular profit from New York’s unbalanced tort laws, which are generally set at the state level. One has to wonder if the personal injury lawyer-legislators are in office to serve the interests of New York, or their personal injury law firms. It was just six months ago that former Speaker Sheldon Silver was charged with public corruption after receiving millions of dollars from the plaintiffs’ firm Weitz & Luxenberg, which federal prosecutors claim were nothing more than bribes and kickbacks.”

View one page summary of findings here: http://bit.ly/1JuFV8I

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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 Release Here

See Full Power of Attorney Report Here