Legal Intern, Manhattan Institute's Center for Legal Policy
Last week, on the last day of its session, the New York State Legislature pushed through a bill that extends the time period for filing lawsuits against municipalities and local government entities.
In a carefully engineered 11th-hour move last week, the New York State Legislature passed a bill making it easier for plaintiffs to sue the municipalities and public entities of New York. The bill was rushed through committee and ordered directly to the floor, where it passed both houses without a single word of debate. Few legislators ever read the bill, and even fewer fully understood its impact.
The bill, innocuously titled the "Uniform Notice of Claims Act," extends the time period for filing certain lawsuits against public entities and centralizes the filing of claims with the secretary of state. With tens of thousands of lawsuits filed against our public institutions each year, it is easy to see how the secretary of state's office could be quickly overwhelmed with pending litigation, and delay actual notice to the defendant municipalities.
The bill has been described as a "gift-wrapped, election-year favor to trial lawyers," which ultimately will put taxpayers on the hook for financing the increase in lawsuits against local governments that the legislation enables. With the bill having passed both houses in the state legislature, the ball is now in Gov. Cuomo's court.