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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.

Times Union – Letter: Injury Lawyers Use Clicks for Cash

adamThis week, the Albany Times Union published a letter written by LRANY’s Adam Morey. The letter focused on the amount that lawyers spend on online advertising to reign in clients.

An excerpt:

“It is refreshing to see the legal industry moving toward the use of technology to better serve and cut costs for its clients (“Law faces a cyber future,” April 23). But the truth is, just as they spend big on Albany politics, personal injury lawyers invest heavily in online marketing, with the most prized search terms going to the highest bidder.

In fact, 23 of the top 25 most expensive Google keywords in 2015 were accident attorney-related. For the first half of that year, eight of the top 10 most expensive cost-per-click keywords were asbestos/mesothelioma-related. Law firms also create non-branded websites, like “asbestos.com” to steer traffic toward their legal services.”

Read Full Letter

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.

The Syracuse Post Standard: Legal Reforms Can Make NY a Friendlier Place for Doctors

adamToday, The Syracuse Post Standard published commentary from LRANY’s Government Affairs Specialist, Adam Morey. The piece titled ‘Legal Reforms Can Make NY a Friendlier Place for Doctors‘ focused on a recent article covering a report naming New York as the second worst in the nation for doctors. In this editorial, Adam explains what drivers are pushing doctors out of our state.

An excerpt:

“It is no shock that New York is ranked so close to the bottom of the list of states for doctors to work (“NY second worst place in nation for doctors, study says,”March 29). Nearly 20 percent of all the medical liability payouts in the U.S. are paid in New York, an amount totaling more than the medical liability payouts for the whole Midwest. The fact is, the state’s high medical liability costs drive away medical professionals, reduce competition and weaken access to medical care for New Yorkers from Buffalo to Montauk.

The dominance of the trial lawyers lobby in New York state politics is largely to blame – in 2014 Gov. Andrew Cuomo told the Crain’s editorial board that “the trial lawyers are the single most powerful political force in Albany.” Not only do law firms and their associated PACs pour millions into the campaign coffers of the state’s elected officials, some legislators – like convicted former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver – are themselves personal injury trial lawyers; Silver was well known to carry the agenda of the lawyer’s lobby, blocking common-sense reform measures from ever coming to the floor.”

Read the full article

STATEMENT: LRANY Executive Director Response to $10M Dismissal of P!nk Cover Band Suit

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March 30, 2016

$10 Million “Ugly” Lawsuit Dismissed, but Highlights Need for Legislative Change

“While we are thrilled that the lawsuit against Collette McLafferty has been dismissed, it is a tragic indictment of our system that this case was not dismissed years ago. Collette has incurred tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees from a man she has never met, and her courtroom struggle continues as she now has to go to court yet again, in hopes of recovering her legal fees.

Further, we are disappointed the court denied Collette’s “abuse of process” claim. Collette’s case received international attention precisely because its abusive nature. If this case does not constitute an abuse of process, what case does? The bar of what constitutes abuse under New York law seems so high that we have to wonder if there is any bar at all.

This lawsuit so clearly illustrates the dire need for legislative action to guide our courts and prevent people like Collette from being exploited by our legal system and those who abuse it.”

-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.

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.

Statement from LRANY Executive Director on NYC Construction Workers Drinking on the Job

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March 2, 2016

LRANY Executive Director on NYC Construction Workers Drinking on the Job

WABC-TV recent expose on construction workers drinking on the job further illustrates how New York’s labor laws encourage unsafe behavior. Specifically, Labor Law 240, also known as the ‘Scaffold Law,’ which has been applied by the courts to exonerate intoxicated workers of culpability for their own actions. The Scaffold Law has been shown to increase New York’s rate of injury by an estimated 677 injuries per year, and WABC-TV’s story illustrates why. Intoxicated workers are dangerous workers and New York’s laws should not let them off the hook if their drinking leads to an accident – either hurting themselves or others on site.

Governor Cuomo and New York lawmakers’ must reform the Scaffold Law to account for employee negligence, the same standard used in every other state. Doing so will save billions in insurance costs, billions in taxpayer dollars, and more importantly, reform will keep our workers and streets safer.”

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

Link to WABC-TV segment here.

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Contact: Phoebe Stonbely | PStonbely@LRANY.org | 518.424.5811

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.

Collette McLafferty Maintains Strength in Fight Against Abusive Lawsuit

collette speaking lrany 2Collette McLafferty, the professional singer who was sued for $10 million back in 2014 for being “too unattractive” for a P!nk tribute band, has not given up her fight. The lawsuit abuse victim turned lawsuit reform advocate continues to combat this frivolous lawsuit while simultaneously pushing for legislation to minimize abusive lawsuits.

From the beginning of her battle, Collette has been determined to keep her story in the press to help educate others about her lawsuit and New York’s broken civil justice system. Just this week, she earned recognition in The Huffington Post, with an article by a HuffPo writer who also works with Funded Justice.

After hearing Collette’s story, LRANY developed ‘Collette’s Law,’ legislation that takes aim at frivolous lawsuits by requiring those who file meritless actions to pay the other party’s legal costs, as well as increasing sanctions for those who file frivolous lawsuits.

While many lawsuit abuse victims settle, Collette is fighting. Unfortunately despite the obvious meritless nature of this lawsuit, Collette has incurred thousands of dollars in legal costs. She is currently raising money to cover the remaining $3,500 in legal costs through Funded Justice, a crowdfunding group that helps anyone with a legal issue who needs money to hire an attorney.

In a video, which can be found on her campaign page, Collette titles these funds “a contribution to ending the culture of frivolous lawsuits in New York.” LRANY has been honored to work with Collette over the last few years and to have found such a strong advocate for change. We encourage you to take a look at her campaign page and show your support.

See her campaign page with a video here

See The Huffington Post article here

Write a message to your elected official to support Collette’s Law here

LRANY Executive Director on 2016 State of the State

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January 13, 2016

LRANY Executive Director on 2016 State of the State

“Of the 14 proposals outlined by the Governor, 12 require construction, and there is no greater hindrance to construction in New York than a law the Governor himself has called ‘infuriating’ – the so-called ‘Scaffold Law.’ New York is the only state to have a law like it, it costs billions, and does not keep workers safe. If the Governor is serious about these proposals, he needs to reform the greatest impediment to their success: the Scaffold Law.”

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

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Contact: Phoebe Stonbely | PStonbely@LRANY.org | 518.424.5811

 

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.