Moments ago, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an agreement to enact Lavern's Law (S.6800/A.8516). The bill will become law after chapter amendments are passed by the legislature on Tuesday, January 30th and signed by the Governor. NYSTLA tirelessly advocated alongside patients' rights groups, cancer victims and survivors, and their families for the enactment of this critically important new law.
Lavern’s Law corrects a serious injustice that has stood for decades and made New York State an outlier in its lack of protection for the rights of cancer patients.
CPLR section 214-a establishes generally that victims of medical negligence must bring a claim within two and a half years of when a medical error occurred. Currently, many cancer patients who are the victims of medical malpractice are never allowed to have their day in court, simply due to the fact that many symptoms of cancer take longer than two and a half years to manifest themselves.
Lavern's Law focuses specifically on patients who have been harmed by the failure to diagnose cancer or a malignant tumor. It does not apply to any other medical malpractice cases.
The new law establishes that in such cases, the statute of limitations would begin to run when the patient knows or reasonably should have known of the error and harm, with a limitation that only seven years can pass between the negligent act and the bringing of an action.
Getting Lavern’s Law to the Governor’s desk and signed into law has been a priority for NYSTLA. Thank you for your ongoing support and your willingness to share the stories of your clients who have been personally affected by medical negligence. Thank you as well to all members who helped by attending lobby day.
NYSTLA thanks Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Flanagan, Senate Democratic Leader Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Heastie and the sponsors of Lavern’s Law, Assemblymember Weinstein and Senator DeFrancisco, for achieving enactment of this significant new legislation.
Lavern's Law passed thanks to the overwhelming support of Democrats in the Assembly and both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, making it a truly bi-partisan achievement. Thanks also to the Daily News for their outspoken leadership on behalf of families harmed by medical negligence.
Particular thanks to Medical Malpractice Committee Co-Chair and LawPAC Co-Chair Jeffrey Bloom of Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf; Medical Malpractice Committee Co-Chair and LawPAC Treasurer Matthew Gaier of Kramer, Dillof, Livingston & Moore; Medical Malpractice Committee Vice-Chair Victoria Wickman of The Law Office of Victoria Wickman; LawPAC Co-Chair Jeffrey Lichtman of Trolman, Glaser & Lichtman, P.C.; LawPAC Vice-Chair Catherine Beltz-Foley of Paul William Beltz, L.L.C.; NYSTLA Past-President and Past LawPAC Co-Chair David Golomb of Law Offices of David B. Golomb and NYSTLA's Immediate Past-President, Ed Gersowitz of Gersowitz, Libo & Korek, P.C. for their hard work on this long overdue bill. Thanks as well to Attorney Judith Donnel and NYSTLA Past-President and Past LawPAC Co-Chair Joseph Awad, whose firm, Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C., represented Lavern.
Most of all, thank you to the families of Lavern Wilkinson and others who stood strong, year after year, to make their voices heard in Albany. Without their dedication and enormous courage, today would not be possible.
Matthew A. Funk
New York State Trial Lawyers Association