Ken Bloom

By Kenneth A. Bloom, Founder & Managing Partner

Talk about waiting until the last minute! Governor Hochul announced in an op-ed published by the Daily News that she would be vetoing the proposed Grieving Families Act on January 30, the deadline for her to sign the bill.

The Grieving Families Act would have completely overhauled New York’s wrongful death
statute in two major ways. The first is that it would have greatly expanded the class of plaintiffs who could have recovered to anyone who had a “close” relationship to the deceased. The second is that plaintiffs would have been able to recover for grief, sympathy and loss of consortium. The current wrongful death statute allows for recovery of economic damages only. The Grieving Families Act also would have applied retroactively to all pending wrongful death lawsuits in
New York.

Governor Hochul echoed experts’ concerns of the unintended consequences of the Grieving
Families Act. One particular consequence of the Grieving Families Act is that it would “drive up
already-high health insurance premiums” which would add significant costs for many sectors of
the economy. As Governor Hochul wrote: “our goal must be to deliver justice for grieving
families without sending the economy into distress.”

Governor Hochul recognized that the current wrongful death statute is outdated, should be
updated, and urged the Legislature to consider the impact of the Grieving Families Act on the
economy, small businesses, individuals, and the state’s healthcare system before, not after,
passing sweeping legislation. She suggested the Legislature amend the current wrongful death
statute so that parents of children who have died in an accident could recover for their loss.
Notably absent from the Governor’s remarks were the specific impact the Act would have on
commercial insurance premiums, claims costs attendant thereto, and the concomitant impact on
all businesses in the state.

Stay tuned as we await the Legislature’s response and what will surely be a new bill which will
be both an expensive and ill-conceived burden on insurers and insureds.