State Bar Urged by Mayor Bloomberg to Support Tort Reform
Attorneys attending the annual meeting of the New York State Bar Association were asked yesterday by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to support changes to tort laws. Mr. Bloomberg said that the changes could save the city tens, or even hundreds, of millions of dollars annually in medical malpractice and liability.
Addressing several hundred members of the state bar at the organization’s “presidential summit,” Mr. Bloomberg likened civil litigation against the city of New York to a “lottery” where a tiny fraction of litigants collect huge awards while the majority gets nothing.
The mayor also said that although the city paid around $20 million in awards in 1978, it now pays just under $500 million to civil litigants annually. He declared, “It’s an affront to taxpayers.” He also added, “Help us to make the law fairer to litigants and taxpayers.”
Mr. Bloomberg said that the notion that governments like New York City are “bottomless pits of money” must change.
He urged attorneys to support the establishment of “special health courts” that will weigh the recommendations made by neutral health care experts to determine whether a medical malpractice claim is legitimate or not.
The mayor said that a similar approach has been implemented in Texas, which minimized the size and number of awards against hospitals and doctors. Lawyers can come up with their own innovative ideas that can minimize costly litigation while still allowing legitimate and deserving litigants their day in court.
Mr. Bloomberg told the lawyers, “You are professional innovators and problem solvers. Making a difference is your second nature.”