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April 14th, 2016

Despite Corruption Conviction of Their Man in Albany, NY’s Unabashed Trial Lawyers Still Buying Influence

An ATRA ally, the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY), this week unveiled the latest of its annual “Power of Attorney” reports, analyzing the considerable spending of New York trial lawyers on lobbying and  political campaigns.

Even as Sheldon Silver, the former speaker of the New York Assembly has recently been convicted and awaits sentencing on several federal corruption charges in connection with his moonlighting for a plaintiffs’ law firm that dominates the New York City Asbestos Litigation court, LRANY reports that, in 2015, plaintiffs’ lawyers, their lobbying groups, and associated Political Action Committees (PACs) spent a combined $2.64 million to influence state elected officials.

The report identified more than $450,000 in campaign contributions by PACs controlled by state trial lawyers.  Additionally, they spent $1.38 million in lobbying – a 10% increase over the prior year and a 64% increase since 2010. The substantial increase surprised the reports’ authors given that 2015 was not an election year.

“This 64% increase far outpaces inflation, revealing a continued return for the trial lawyers on their investment in Albany politics,” said Tom Stebbins, Executive Director of LRANY.

Stebbins explained that the report exposes “a vicious cycle of corruption” within the New York State legislature, wherein “trial lawyers continue to make money from Albany policies, and put more and more of that money back into the pockets of Albany politicians, who, in turn, maintain those trial lawyer-friendly policies.”

The report concludes that trial lawyer money sloshing around Albany is a “significant roadblock to common sense lawsuit reform.”

Stebbins said, “This report is proof of the trial lawyer lobby’s role as ‘puppet masters’ of the state legislature, pulling strings to target the key committees . . . .  We only hope that the continued exposure of the crooked practices in our state government will lead to the past due positive changes New Yorkers have been waiting for.”

LRANY is a nonpartisan not-for-profit association of businesses, professionals, healthcare providers, membership organizations, taxpayers, and concerned citizens committed to changing New York’s legal system to help create jobs and energize our economy.

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