IS GOVERNOR HOCHUL WEAK FOR TORT VICTIMS
While Governor Hochul is a Democrat and Deomcrats have typically sided with those seeking Justice and the overall fairness of our Court system, some recent decision by Governor Hochul call into question what side she is really on. Does Governor Hochul stand with the common New Yorker or is she indebted to special interests and the corporate lobby? Our New York trial lawyers who represent average New Yorkers believe she is not on our side.
SHE VETOED THE GRIEVING FAMILIES ACT
Governor Hochul recently vetoed the Grieving Families Act, a bill that had been passed overwhelmingly by both chambers of the state legislature. The act was meant to allow greater tort remedies to families dealing with the sudden loss of a loved one. Its primary purpose was to remedy an archaic law which limited what family members could sue for to pre-death pain and suffering and the economic loss caused by the death. This law results in great disparities in justice and in cases where a death occurred suddenly and the decedent did not have dependents, families are left without a remedy for the negligent death of their loved one. For example, where a child was killed because they were hit by a drunk driver or because of medical malpractice during a surgery, if the child died instantly, the parents cannot sue those responsible because the law does not recognize that their grief has any value.
Unfortunately, Governor Hocul cited fiscal concerns in her veto message, arguing that the cost of the law could not be justified at this time given the current budget constraints. However, this is a thin excuse because there is no realistic link between the budget and liability of private actors. If the expansion of municipal liabilty was really the concern, municipal actors could have been exempted. Although many lawmakers found this decision to be unfortunate, our New York trial lawyers know the truth is that she caved to the pressure put on her by the insurance companies. These insurance companies ran ads that were laughable, which claimed it would increase the cost of doing business, while ignoring the real cost that is borne by the families who lost loved ones to negligent behavior. Unfortunately, this decision put the interests of insurance companies above the grief of families who have lost loved ones through no fault of their own.
SHE WATERED DOWN CARLOS LAW
Despite public outcry for greater safety on construction sites in New York, Governor Hochul watered signed a watered down version of Carlos' Law, which took the teeth out of the bill.The construction industry is the most dangerous in the US, accounting for nearly 20% of all fatal workplace accidents. In New York City alone there were 22 construction worker deaths recorded last year according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Although recent data shows three construction related deaths just last month. Governor Hochul proposed an amendment to Carlos's Law, which would reduce the fines imposed when construction fatalities occur. His proposal has been met with criticism by those who believe that such a decrease in fines will not act as a sufficient deterrent to prevent further tragedies from occurring. However, Governor Hochul argued that the current penalties are too steep and do not always reflect the facts of a construction accident. As such, he believes that reducing the fines while still holding those responsible accountable is more appropriate.
SHE REFUSED TO PROTECT FREELANCE WORKERS
Governor Hochul recently vetoed New York State Senate Bill S8369B (also known as the "Gounardes" bill) and Assembly Bill A9368A (known as the "Bronson" bill). This legislation was aimed at providing additional protections for freelance workers who often lack access to basic workplace protections. The bills sought to ensure that freelancers were paid on time and guaranteed minimum wage, overtime, and anti-discrimination protections.
Governor Hochul's decision to veto these bills has drawn criticism from advocates for freelance workers' rights. They argue that without this legislation, many freelancers will be unable to access the same protections as full-time employees. These advocates are now calling on state legislators to override the governor's veto and pass the bills into law. They hope that this will ensure that freelancers in New York have access to the same protections as other workers in the state.
The debate over these bills shows no sign of abating in the near future, and it remains to be seen whether the governor's veto will be overturned. Either way, it is clear that New York legislators are taking steps to ensure that freelance workers receive the same protections as other employees in the state.
SHE SNUBBED LAW ENFORCEMENT AND COURT EMPLOYEES
Governor Hochul vetoed two bills that were related to accidental disability retirement for uniformed court officers and peaceful officers employed in the unified court system. The first bill (S8399/A6365a) provides that any disabled person who is a uniformed court officer or peace officer may be granted an accidental disability retirement. The second bill (S8448/A9670) provides for certain death benefits to correction officers, correction officer-sergeants, correction officer-captains, assistant wardens, associate wardens or wardens employed by Westchester county. The bills were intended to provide a measure of security and peace of mind for those in the uniformed court and police systems who may be injured in the line of duty. In addition, it ensures that their families are taken care of if they should die while serving on the job. Governor Hochul's bills will restore justice to those who put their lives on the line to protect and serve their communities. By proposing these two bills, legislators are showed their support for the people who put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe. These bills would have provided uniformed court officers and peace officers with the security they need in case of an accident or death while serving their community. But Governonr Hochul vetoed both of these bills.