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Legislative Memo

T 518.465.7511
www.bcnys.org

BILL:

S.4164 (Volker) / A.2989 (Weisenberg)

  Support

SUBJECT:

Equalizing the treatment of collateral sources in tort actions

 

S.4164 (Volker) / A.2989 (Weisenberg)

DATE:

June 4, 2008

 

The Business Council strongly supports this legislation which will standardize the treatment of collateral sources by requiring collateral sources to be offset on past and future damage awards in actions against private and public employers.

Under current law, collateral sources in tort actions against private sector employers are offset against past and future damage awards or expenses. This bill will eliminate a statutory anomaly as interpreted by the Court of Appeals, which concluded that public employers are limited to an offset against past economic loss, which effectively permits an individual to collect twice: a tax free disability pension plus the full amount of any future damage award resulting from the tort action.

The law should not confer a preferred status on a public employee entitling that individual to both a tax free disability pension and the full amount of any damage award. The state's taxpayers – business and individuals – are ultimately the “checkbook” for these benefits, not an “anonymous governmental entity.” It is the taxpayer who is paying twice, with revenue raised through real property and income taxes. In a state which ranks near the top in most measures of tax burden, this disparate statutory treatment for public employees results in added taxpayer burdens which are indefensible.

For these reasons, The Business Council supports Senate Bill 4164.