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The addition of Leigh Eskenasi as a named partner recognizes his dedication to our clients, and his contributions to the numerous multi-million dollar recoveries the firm has obtained, which are among the highest in New York State.

The Grieving Families Act Vetoed
Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Posted in Wrongful Death

On Monday, January 30, 2023, Governor Hochul vetoed a New York State legislative bill, dubbed the “Grieving Families Act,” which would have reformed New York’s wrongful death law which originally dates back to 1847. The Grieving Families Act received widespread acclaim in Albany where it was voted on and passed through the legislature with tremendous bipartisan support. However, Gov. Hochul vetoed the bill, citing the bill’s potential impact on “small businesses” and New York’s “complex healthcare system.” The Governor’s decision to veto the bill left many dumbfounded, frustrated, and distraught.

The Governor’s decision to veto the Grieving Families Act left many frustrated, and distraught.

“Every other state, aside from Alabama and Delaware, allows loved ones to be compensated for their grief,” said Emily Gallagher, New York State Representative for District 50, comprising parts of the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and Fort Greene. “New York’s current [wrongful death] law is indefensible and it’s appalling that it has taken as long as it did to pass a meaningful reform called the Grieving Families Act,” Gallagher stated. Meanwhile, businesses, including insurers and healthcare firms, showed vehement opposition to the passage of the Grieving Families Act, stating that the change could result in higher liability insurance costs for drivers and businesses.

Under the current wrongful death law in New York, damages for wrongful death are limited to a survivor’s pecuniary – or monetary – loss as a result of their loved one’s death. In other words, the amount of recovery that the plaintiff would be entitled to would depend only on the financial loss caused by the death of the plaintiff’s loved one. Applying this law, the value of the lives of a child, an elderly parent who is not relied upon for financial support, or someone who is not economically advantaged is grossly limited.

The Grieving Families Act modernizes the definition of “family” to include domestic partners and stepparents.

The Grieving Families Act would have expanded the current wrongful death law in New York to permit plaintiffs to recover for the emotional loss that comes with losing a loved one and would broaden the class of plaintiffs who may recover for such loss. Specifically, the Act modernizes the definition of “family” such that “close family members” (such as domestic partners and stepparents) would be included in the class of plaintiffs who have a legal right to sue for the death of a loved one.

Unequivocally, Gov. Hochul’s decision to veto the bill, despite widespread bipartisan support in the New York State legislature, will have a negative impact on plaintiffs who have lost a loved one due to the negligence of a third party. However, Grandelli & Eskenasi has a proven track record of pushing the limits of the current wrongful death law framework and has obtained numerous multi-million-dollar recoveries in cases involving wrongful death. If a loved one has been injured or killed as a result of someone else’s negligence, Grandelli & Eskenasi stands ready to assist you and your family during such a tragic time and will provide you with the justice your family deserves. Contact us today for more information.


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