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Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

May 13, 1999 

Business, government leaders attend Annual Dinner, tort reform forum

Leaders of business and government from across New York attended The Council's Annual Dinner and The Public Policy Institute's Issues Forum at the Empire State Plaza in Albany.

The Issues Forum focused on tort reform and featured keynote addresses by state Senator Dale Volker and Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, sponsors of the Volker-Morelle Civil Justice Act.

Saying tort reform "is just a matter of time," Volker accused tort-reform foes of misrepresenting tort reform as an effort to deny legitimate claims.

"It's not about that," he said. "Tort reform is about a dramatic increase in the cost of doing business."

Assemblyman Morelle said reform would both restore balance and fairness to the civil-justice system and enhance New York's competitiveness by reducing the burden of lawsuits on New York.

In addition, panelists representing business, local governments and doctors outlined many diverse arguments for tort reform. Lawrence Kahn, chief litigator for New York City, said half the city's annual expenditure on tort claims would fund 3,000 police officers.

Before some 650 business and government leaders at the Annual Dinner, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer said the upstate economy is being hurt by three high costs: taxes, notably property taxes; energy costs; and air fares.

He proposed federal action that would increase competition in power markets in New York State by reducing regulation. He did not provide specifics.