‘Lavern’s Law’ supported by Mayor de Blasio

On June 9, 2015, Mayor de Blasio lent his support to “Lavern’s Law” to give more rights to medical malpractice victims. More specifically, the bill would strengthen the rights of victims of medical malpractice to hold hospitals accountable in court.

The legislation has been named after Wilkinson (41), a mother from Brooklyn who died in March 2013 from a curable form of lung cancer after doctors at the Kings County Hospital failed to alert her to a suspicious mass that had already been noted in X-rays three years ago. The need for this new law arose, when she was barred from suing the hospital due to a legal loophole. As per the existing law, claims of medical malpractice against public hospitals were required to be filed within fifteen months of their occurrence, instead of when the neglect is actually discovered. To the patient’s disadvantage, the time requirement seemed to have come in the way of filing a medical malpractice suit.

The bill pending in Albany would change the statute of limitations to allow lawsuits from people facing similar legal challenges. In the Mayor’s words:

“all New Yorkers should have the ability to bring legitimate medical malpractice actions whether treated in a private or public hospital,”

While some like the bill sponsor, Helene Weinstein, are hopeful about the bill coming up; others opine that the mere expectancy of the coming of the bill doesn’t confirm that it will. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie preferred to discuss it with his Democratic members, rather than committing to bringing the measure up for an up-or-down vote.

Currently, the bill has support of two powerful Republicans, namely — Deputy Majority Leader Thomas Libous of Binghamton and Finance Committee Chairman John DeFrancisco of Syracuse in the Senate. In January, it was referred to the Senate Codes Committee, but is yet to be taken up. 

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