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July 10th, 2013

NY Speaker Blocks Tort Reforms in Albany while on Payroll of Big Apple Plaintiffs’ Firm

For the first time, New York State lawmakers are now required to report publicly their annual income beyond their government salaries. And the New York Post reports that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s 2012 income included, most notably, some $350,000-$450,000 from Weitz & Luxenberg, a giant personal injury law firm based in New York City.

Weitz & Luxenberg’s lawsuits often target the city itself, which last year faced more than 7,000 new personal injury cases and paid out in excess of $500 million worth of taxpayers’ money to often opportunistic plaintiffs.  This is why New York City continues to lobby lawmakers in Albany for reasonable tort reforms that would stem the tide of nuisance slips-and-falls and other meritless lawsuits.

But Speaker Silver, more loyal to his law firm than his city constituents, is notorious for strangling all tort reform bills in the cradle.  Accordingly, the Post quoted ATRA’s director of communications Darren McKinney to say that Silver “is certainly the commander in chief of the [trial-lawyer] forces that are aligned solidly against any hint of civil-justice reforms, as they feather their own nests and perpetuate a racket that has been going on in New York state — the crumbling former Empire State — for far too long.”

A follow-up editorial in the Post further questions Silver’s Weitz & Luxenberg income, and McKinney is urging reporters to investigate what kind of legal work, if any, Silver actually does to justify the small fortune the firm pays him each year.

“Is he litigating and winning cases, or is he effectively being bribed to thwart the interests of his contituents?” McKinney asks.  “Surely New York voters have a right to know.”

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