Giuliani Emphasizes Need for Tort Reform in New York

WASHINGTON, D.C. (10/24/2012)(readMedia)-- Speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's 13th annual Legal Reform Summit in Washington, D.C., former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani stressed the need for New York to enact meaningful lawsuit reform. He noted that past efforts to pass tort reform had been stalled by the powerful trial lawyer lobby, and highlighted the substantial fiscal and social costs of frivolous lawsuits.

The cost of lawsuits for New York City was hundreds of millions during Giuliani's tenure as mayor. Frivolous lawsuits are a major issue for local governments, with the cost of lawsuits on New York City alone estimated to exceed $730 million in the coming year. Lawsuits have taken a toll on taxpayers and diverted resources from critical services, such as city teachers, police officers, and firefighters, noted the former Mayor. Giuliani highlighted a case in which a criminal fleeing from the police tripped on a pothole and was awarded $70 million for his injuries. "When a jury in New York sees NYC as a defendant, they forget that they are really the defendant - that they are paying out their money and they pay out money in huge quantities," he said.

"Municipalities are often sued even if there is little or no negligence on their part, simply because an incident happened on public property," said Tom Stebbins, Executive Director of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York. Stebbins noted that New York's plaintiff-friendly legal system allows a defendant which is as little as one percent at fault to be forced to pay the full amount of the award if other defendants are cannot pay.

In what Giuliani referred to as a "brain drain problem," many doctors trained in New York relocate to Texas to avoid frivolous litigation and astronomical malpractice insurance rates. Said Giuliani, "We're losing a lot of our best doctors to other states who have now passed tort reform." To address this growing problem, Giuliani estimated that implementing rational limits on intangible non-economic damages, frequently referred to as "pain and suffering" awards, could save the city about $150 million.

"It was great to hear the former mayor discuss these issues in front of a national audience. The impact of frivolous lawsuits on New York's economy and society is a growing problem that our state's leaders must address head on," added Stebbins.

For more information, please contact Tom Stebbins, Executive Director of LRANY at 518-512-5265 or

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The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York is an Albany-based group committed to changing New York's legal system to create more jobs and energize our state's economy.