Just five weeks after last year’s Judicial Hellholes report was released and ranked the New York City Asbestos Litigation court (NYCAL) as the least fair civil court jurisdiction in the nation; and several year’s since ATRA had begun to raise questions about troubling ties between then-New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the plaintiffs’ law firm for which he moonlighted, Silver was arrested and arraigned on several federal corruption charges, stemming in part from taxpayer-funded research grants Silver directed to a physician who in turn referred patients with asbestosrelated illnesses to Silver’s firm. On December 1, 2015, a federal jury in Manhattan found Silver guilty on all counts.
For those lucrative referrals to the asbestos litigation specialists at Weitz & Luxenberg, prosecutors demonstrated that Silver had been paid millions. Of course, other critics of Silver’s relationship with the law firm that has for years dominated proceedings at NYCAL are certain he had also been rewarded for dependably thwarting any and every bipartisan tort reform bill reasonably aimed at limiting civil liability in the crumbling former Empire State.
But with Silver’s conviction, continuing investigations of asbestos claims, and the appointment of a new top judge at NYCAL, there is reason to hope. Reflecting that hope, New York’s infamous asbestos court slides to a #2 ranking this year.