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Letter: Common-sense legal reforms are long overdue in New York

Common-sense legal reforms are long overdue in New York

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.”

Common-sense reforms can fix this. The time is now for our elected officials to advance past-due legal reforms that have been hindering our state for far too long.

New York should enact stricter standards for expert witnesses in medical cases and place reasonable limits on non-economic payouts, thereby lowering costs and stopping the flow of doctors out of our state.

The dubious Scaffold Law, which holds contractors and property owners absolutely liable for a worker’s injuries in a lawsuit, only needs a simple fix. Make liability proportionate to fault, just as it is in every other state.

With asbestos litigation at the center of Silver’s deceit, New York needs to open up the asbestos trusts, currently riddled with fraud, to transparency. Locally, Assemblyman Robin Schimminger has championed legislation for asbestos trust transparency (A.5978). We urge the Legislature to pass it in 2016.

It is a new day in Albany; opportunity is on the horizon for consequential change.

Phoebe E. Stonbely

Manager of Operations and Outreach

Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York