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Legislative Memo

Ken Pokalsky
Vice President of Government Affairs
T 518.465.7511
www.bcnys.org

BILL:

S.3766 (Bonacic)/A.625 (Weinstein)

Support

SUBJECT:

Pre-trial Settlements

 

DATE:

June 24, 2011

 

The Business Council opposes this legislation which would require a co-defendant in a tort case to elect, prior to trial, the preference for a jury verdict reduction of damages when one defendant has settled.  The non-settling co-defendant would choose between a reduction by 1) the total of all stated settlement amounts; or 2) a proportionate share of fault.

Under current law, the amount of fault for the non-settling defendant is determined after the verdict and the jury award is adjusted by the court by either the amount paid by the settling defendants or the settling defendant’s equitable share of damages.

Under this system, non-settling co-defendants may end up paying more in damages, while plaintiffs will often receive more than the actual award. This is not sound public policy and is counter to the standards of compensation in our civil justice system. Our system should not be used to enrich plaintiffs beyond their court determined awards.

This legislation will ultimately lead to an in increase insurance premiums on consumers as well. Medical malpractice insurance premiums are already too high for hospitals and health care providers. Now is not the time to increase cost pressures on health care providers who continue to leave the state in increasing numbers every year. 

For these reasons the Business Council opposes enactment of S.3766/A.625.