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March 18, 2002

Assembly Republicans introduce sweeping tort-reform bill

The Assembly Republican Conference has added to the growing momentum for tort reform with a sweeping proposal that seeks to lower government costs and save taxpayers and consumers billions of dollars now lost to lawsuit abuse.

Assembly Republican Leader Charles H. Nesbitt (R-C, Albion) and other members of the Assembly minority announced the plan at a March 18 news conference. The bill is co-sponsored by Assemblyman Nesbitt and 40 other Republican Assembly members.

"Lawsuit jury awards are spiraling out of control, threatening the health of key professions. . . and ultimately increasing costs to consumers and taxpayers," Nesbitt said. "This package of reforms is aimed at putting a stop to the 'lawsuit lottery' that in reality has few winners and forces all of us to pay dearly."

The Assembly Republicans said their bill would save New Yorkers more than $5.4 billion this year alone. The bill would:

Business Council President Daniel B. Walsh praised the bill.

"Lawsuit abuse costs New Yorkers and their governments billions of dollars a year. There will never be a better time to rein it in," Walsh said. "New York's business community applauds this effort.

"It's time to take the focus of our civil justice system off the needs of trial lawyers. Instead we must emphasize fair and reasonable compensation for legitimate victims. The Assembly Republicans' proposal would take critical steps to achieve that goal."

In 1998, The Public Policy Institute, The Business Council's research affiliate, outlined the case for tort reform in New York with its landmark report 'An Accident and a Dream.' The report showed that New York's lawsuit industry costs New Yorkers $14 billion a year, almost $800 per person. It also showed that lawsuit abuse adds hundreds of millions of dollars every year to the property-tax burden. That's because lawsuits against municipalities drive up their costs.