New York State Legislature Proposes Sweeping Reforms to Empower Plaintiffs' Bar in Civil Litigation
16 June 2023
The New York State Legislature is planning to significantly increase the influence and authority of the plaintiffs' bar, according to a recent article in the New York Law Journal. The proposed changes (A.7138 and S.795) aim to strengthen the position of plaintiffs' lawyers in civil litigation and enhance their ability to pursue legal claims on behalf of their clients. The proposed laws would revise New York General Business Law section 349 That section currently prohibits the more limited universe of "[d]eceptive acts or practices" in a business context, and it allows private actions for only injunctive relief and paltry $50 statutory damages.
The legislative reforms would involve several key modifications to existing laws. One of the primary changes in the proposed legislation seeks to reduce various legal defenses that defendants often utilize in civil cases. This includes limitations on the use of contributory negligence as a defense and stricter standards for summary judgment motions, which could potentially make it harder for defendants to have cases dismissed early in the litigation process.
Furthermore, the reforms aim to enhance the rights and protections for whistleblowers who expose corporate misconduct. This could encourage individuals with knowledge of illegal activities to come forward and seek legal remedies, while also providing them with safeguards against retaliation.
Overall, the proposed changes in New York State intend to give plaintiffs' lawyers greater tools and opportunities to pursue legal actions on behalf of their clients, potentially leading to increased accountability for corporations and professionals involved in various areas of litigation.