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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.

STATEMENT: LRANY Executive Director Response to Silver Sentencing

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May 3, 2016

LRANY Executive Director Response to Silver Sentencing

“We have said – for years now – that Sheldon Silver’s payments from New York’s wealthiest personal injury law firm were an out-sized political contribution masquerading as legitimate income. Silver defrauded the people, choosing his allegiance to the trial lawyers over his public service. Now convicted, disbarred, and sentenced for his crimes, lawmakers in Albany must act on the common sense civil justice reforms he blocked for decades from ever coming to the floor.”

-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.

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.

Forbes: With Silver Convicted, Some NY Dems Lend Support To Asbestos Transparency Bill

magnify asbestosForbes Business recently published a piece written by Legal Newsline reporter, Jessica Karmasek, focusing on the recent support for a piece of legislation calling for transparency in the asbestos trust system. LRANY Executive Director, Tom Stebbins, was quoted on the issue.

An excerpt:

The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York, pointing to the kickback allegations against Silver, says the legislature is “rightfully interested” in overhauling New York’s asbestos courts.

“Asbestos was at the heart of New York’s recent corruption scandal involving former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver,” said Tom Stebbins, LRANY’s executive director. “The intricate kickback scheme uncovered by the U.S. Attorney illustrates the need for comprehensive asbestos litigation reform in New York.

“This bill, which has growing bipartisan support in both houses, would open claims up to transparency to root out fraud and misrepresentation in the system. The measure will protect both future funds for the injured and solvent businesses from becoming the next target of this dangerous double dipping strategy.”

Read the full article

STATEMENT: LRANY Applauds New York Supreme Court’s Decision to Disbar Sheldon Silver

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March 29, 2016

LRANY Applauds New York Supreme Court’s Decision to Disbar Sheldon Silver

“Today’s court decision disbarring former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is a rare and welcome victory for New York’s legal system. Silver carried the plaintiffs’ lawyers water for years as he presided over Albany’s cult of corruption. We applaud the court’s decision and hope this sets a precedent, not just for attorneys who abuse our civil justice system, but for legislators who choose to profit from it.”

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

Read the Court Decision Here: http://bit.ly/1pIgzBw

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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.

New York Post Op-Ed – Even with Shelly Silver in Prison, New Yorkers Will Still Pay for His Legal Corruption

Lawsuit_1-6236Today, the New York Post published an Op-Ed written by LRANY’s Executive Director, Thomas B. Stebbins, highlighting the cost to New Yorkers left after Silver’s decades long reign over Albany and the need to make “New York a great place for all New Yorkers, not just the lawyers who sue us.”

An excerpt:

“If you think you aren’t paying for years of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s (legal) corruption, think again. For decades, Silver carried water for the trial lawyers in Albany, and even when he’s in prison, we’ll all still be stuck with the bill.

New York City taxpayers are on track to shell out over $800 million annually for lawsuit claims by fiscal year 2017-2018, according to a recent city comptroller report. That’s more than the city pays for parks, libraries and the Department of Aging combined.” 

Read Full Op-Ed

Legal Newsline – With Sheldon Silver Convicted, N.Y. Legal Reform Sees Chance at More Success

S1000050Today, Legal Newline published a story on the hope for true legal reform in New York post Sheldon Silver’s conviction, titled: ‘With Sheldon Silver Convicted, N.Y. Legal Reform Sees Chance at More Success’. This article quoted LRANY’s Executive Director, Tom Stebbins, on the issue multiple times – finishing the piece with: “This is a call to action”.

An excerpt:

 “The conviction of former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver could help legal reform efforts in the state.

Silver was found guilty of corruption by a federal jury on Nov. 30 for a scheme in which he steered state research funds to a Columbia University doctor studying mesothelioma in exchange for referrals to the doctor’s patients.

Silver could then refer those patients to the asbestos firm Weitz & Luxenberg, where he was also employed.

According to Tom Stebbins, the executive director of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York, Silver’s conviction marks a ‘new day in Albany.’

‘Over the course of decades, legal reform has been a nonstarter in Albany… We can finally achieve some of the legal reforms that will put New York back in line with the rest of the country,’ Stebbins told Legal Newsline.”

Read Full Article

 

LRANY Letter, The Journal News – Fight Corruption, Reform Scaffold Law

tom speaking lobby day scaffoldToday, The Journal News published a letter written by LRANY’s Executive Director, Thomas B. Stebbins. This letter focused on the opportunity for Scaffold Law reform to become a reality in the wake of the Sheldon Silver conviction.

An excerpt:

“If Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature are serious about expunging the corruption of the Sheldon Silver-era, they must look to reform the ridiculous trial lawyer-giveaway known as the ‘Scaffold Law.’

The Scaffold Law exists only in New York state and, confusingly, does not necessarily have anything to do with scaffolds. What it does is hold contractors and property owners automatically liable in a lawsuit, even if, in the words of the high court, ‘they had nothing to do with the plaintiff’s accident.'”

Read Full Letter

LRANY Letter, The Buffalo News – Common-Sense Legal Reforms Are Long Overdue in New York

ps bw picThe Buffalo News recently published an article written by LRANY’s Phoebe Stonbely highlighting the opportunity for common sense changes following the
conviction of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

An excerpt:

“Though justice has been served with the corruption conviction of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the injustices from his decades in power in Albany remain.

New York is left in shambles from lawsuits and litigation. Silver let the trial lawyer agenda control New York government for years. After decades of trial lawyer control, New York is home to the highest medical liability payouts, the highest construction insurance costs, an asbestos court dubbed the No. 1 ‘judicial hellhole’ in the country, and the state is rated highest for ‘litigation risk.'”

Read Full Letter Here

LRANY Letter, The Poughkeepsie Journal – Silver Conviction Should Further Push Albany to Reform Policies

LRANY 400PortraitsThe Poughkeepsie Journal recently published a letter written by LRANY Executive Director, Thomas Stebbins, outlining the necessary steps our legislature must take in the wake of the Sheldon Silver conviction to enact common sense in Albany.

An excerpt:

“After decades of Albany servicing the trial lawyer special interests, the Sheldon Silver era ended this week with his conviction on corruption charges.

Sadly, we are left with a state ravaged by lawsuits and litigation. New York has the highest medical insurance costs in the nation, the highest construction insurance costs and an asbestos court which was recently named America’s worst.”

Read Full Letter