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Albany Times Union – Letter to the Editor: Knock Litigation out of Ballpark

no public access signThe Albany Times Union recently ran a letter to the editor written by LRANY’s Thomas B. Stebbins highlighting how lawsuits against municipalities and the fear of lawsuits effects our culture and the desperate need for simple reforms.

An excerpt:

“Chris Churchill’s excellent story about how liability fears have made parks like Lake Luzerne inaccessible to the public (“Lifeguard would create a perfect beach day,” July 9) illustrates how the trial lawyers’ dominance of our state government affects us all.

Trial lawyers and the legislators that support them (sometimes one in the same) have expanded liability to such a degree that schools have canceled recess, principals have banned balls on school playgrounds, and towns have outlawed outdoor activities like sledding.”

Read full letter here

LRANY Video Series: The Cultural Impact of Lawsuits

This week on the LRANY Video Series, Tom Stebbins brings you a video on the cultural impact of lawsuits in New York.

We often touch on the economic impact that lawsuits have on our state but it starts with the cultural changes impacted by lawsuits. Lawsuits create a sue-happy mentality and fear of lawsuits continuously enacts changes in business practices, product development and even in our schools.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: New York Lawsuit Reform Group Calls Out Speaker Silver for Hindering N.Y. School Construction

March 6, 2014 (Albany, NY): On the heels of Speaker Sheldon Silvers’ recent public comments regarding the condition of New York’s public schools The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY), said today that the deteriorating conditions at New York’s schools are Silver’s own fault.

“Speaker Silver is correct in his assessment that children should not have to attend schools trailers. Unfortunately, Speaker Silver has consistently opposed reforms that would save our schools hundreds of millions in construction dollars every year.”  Said Tom Stebbins, LRANY’s Executive Director.

The group states that Speaker Silver’s opposition to reform of the New-York-only ‘Scaffold Law’ is directly responsible for the lack of funds for school construction due to the high cost burden the law creates.

Read Full Release

Times Union: Letter- Canceling Recess an Inane Decision

The recent news that Saratoga schools will be canceling recess highlights the unfortunate effects of litigation fears.  The Times Union shared a letter to the editor today written by LRANY Executive Director, Tom Stebbins, in which he discusses this situation.

“Kudos to the editorial condemning Saratoga schools for canceling recess in the name of child safety (“No recess from common sense,” Oct. 14). However, the editorial didn’t mention the very real elephant in the room: liability and the threat of lawsuits.

Schools are often the target of lawsuits. As the Times Union recently reported (“Lawsuits extract $1B from localities a year,” July 27), our municipalities pay out over a billion a year in settlements and judgments, and our schools are similarly threatened with litigation.”

Read Full Letter

220 Pound Teacher Sues Over Assault by 1st Grader

By: Michael Seinberg

Picture this in your mind. Well, at least try to. A 4’ 2” 50 pound first grader by the name of Rodrigo Carpio has a hissy fit and kicks John Webster, 27, a 220-pound gym teacher at PS330 in Queens. Result? Webster plans to sue the City of New York claiming the little beast fractured his ankle, injured his knee and forced him to see a psychologist due to stress from the incident. You just can’t make stuff like this up.

The events took place last April when Webster was leading Carpio’s class to the lunchroom and Carpio started acting up. Webster tried to get Carpio to settle but instead, the boy became physically aggressive and karate kicked Webster in the knee and ankle. Obviously, he was wearing steel-toed boots or is the reincarnation of Bruce Lee.

“I tried to hold his wrists, and he began biting me,’’ Webster said. “I took him to the principal’s office, and he kicked me in the ankle, and one kick landed right on my knee. I felt a pop.’’ Rodrigo then kicked and pinched the acting principal and school safety officer, the occurrence report states.

Little Rodrigo is now back at school this year and doing much better thanks to some medication, according to his mother. Webster, on the other hand claims he must now wear a knee brace and ankle brace, plus let’s not forget his damaged psyche. “It’s been a nightmare. It’s embarrassing. It’s humiliating,” said the onetime tailback for Morrisville State College. But not too embarrassing to sue the city.

This case is just another illustration that no matter what the issue, nobody is willing to just move forward with their lives and accept that bad things sometimes happen. This case will cost the taxpayers of the state, give the school a black eye (pun intended) and not really help anyone except one Andrew Siben, a trial attorney from Bay Shore, LI who is representing Webster. His take on the issue? “This kid is clearly a tiny terror,” he said. “It’s sad that teachers like Mr. Webster are not offered protection from someone who can endanger other teachers and students.” Yup, 50 pounds of pure terror.

Seems to me the real terror should be felt by the erstwhile litigator and his client at the prospect of trying to sell this story to a judge and jury. Does the phrase “laughed out of the courthouse” ring any bells here?

Graduate Sues College Over “Busy” Roommate

By: Mike Seinberg

New York resident, Lindsay Blankmeyer, has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Boston against her former college claiming that her roommate’s active sex life sent her into a deep depression and that the college did nothing to help her, despite the college’s contention that they offered her multiple alternative housing options. Blankmeyer, who graduated from Stonehill College in Easton, MA in 2011 wants $150,000 in damages.

During her final year at Stonehill, Blankmeyer, who admits she suffered from attention deficit disorder and depression before she ever entered college, says her roommate and her boyfriend engaged in sexual activity in their room while she was trying to sleep as well as sexually inappropriate video chatting while she was in the room. The college claims that among other things, they offered her a single room, which she disputes, as well as mediation and other housing options, which she also rejected. She eventually left school and finished her studies from her home in NY.

The college maintains it made every effort to resolve the issue while Blankmeyer, her parents, and her attorney disagree. The school, which currently charges $46,780 per year for a full time student, also made special arrangements with Blankmeyer to give her extra time for papers and tests due to her ADD and depression issues.

This is a clear case of she said-she said and it’s unlikely the truth will ever come out. In the meantime, the court should swiftly dismiss this ridiculous suit. Blankmeyer has her diploma, can move on with her life and is now doing nothing but damaging the reputation of her former school and not doing much for her own image. One wonders how many employers would be eager to have someone like Blankmeyer on staff. The only person who will make out well will be Blankmeyer’s lawyer. Perhaps he could hire her.