I have exciting news.
The Governor today signed into law an important piece of legislation that improves New York's statute of limitations rule for civil actions arising from exposure to toxic substances.
This law is particularly important in the wake of contamination from the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics plant in Hoosick Falls, which Governor Cuomo's administration declared a State Superfund Site earlier this year. Prior to enactment of this legislation, the existing Toxic Tort Law may not have been flexible enough in some instances to accommodate claims by residents at Superfund sites for the harm they have suffered.
This bill establishes a new CPLR 214-f that allows tolling of the statute of limitations when a site is classified as a Superfund site or based on the existing date-of-discovery rule embodied in existing CPLR 214-c, whichever is later.
(CPLR 214-c, known as the original "Toxic Tort Law," allows an action to be commenced within three years of the date on which the injury was discovered or reasonably should have been discovered, or within one year after the cause of the injury was discovered or reasonably should have been discovered if that occurs less than five years after discovery of the injury.)
This bill is important because a person who is exposed to a toxic substance may not know at the time of the exposure that harm is occurring, may not discover the injury until it reveals itself in an illness such as cancer, and may not realize the cause of the injury until the hazard is publicly identified when an area is declared a Superfund site.
We thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership and expeditious action in signing this important legislation. We also thank the sponsors of the bill, Senator Marchione and Assembly Member McDonald.
Edward H. Gersowitz
PresidentNew York State Trial Lawyers Association